Changing Your Website Layout? Here Is What You Must Read.

Recently, someone asked John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, a question regarding ranking: 

“I recently changed the layout look and feel of my blog and moved away from WordPress. And now using Hugo static site generator for publishing my posts. Does the change in layout impact my ranking and search results?”

The asker also pointed out thatthere is no change in the website’s content and the URL structure.It is just the website layout that was changed. 

Many of us change our website’s layout in the hopes of giving it a more attractive and updated look. Sometimes, people change their web layout when their website is not displaying correctly on smartphones or tablets. Right from security to load time to content management systems, there are several reasons for which people change their web layout. 

So, this is something that many might have also wondered about before. 

Well, what’s appreciated was the non-ambiguous answer by the Google expert. Not only did he clarify whether changing a website layout could impact the website’s ranking, but he also further explained the “how” aspect. 

Website layout can affect the ranking of a website

To the surprise of many website owners and SEO pros, John Mueller answered “Yes”. 

Changing the website layout can affect the ranking of a website even if the content and the URL structure are the same. 

Here is the reason that he provided to why changing the web layout can impact ranking. 

Mueller explained:

Changing the layout of your pages can affect your search results.

This is something that some people work on actively as well with regards to on-page SEO.

So things like figuring out how to use titles properly on a page, how to do internal linking properly, how to provide more context for the article itself, all of this can definitely affect SEO.”

Since the web redesign doesn’t alter the content and the URL structure at all, many people expected John Mueller to say ‘No’. 

To make it clearer, John Mueller provided a deeper insight into the relationship between the web redesign and website’s ranking. 

While many professionals and businesses use custom web design to make their website unique, most of the websites on the web are made using themes that are either available free or for purchase. 

Though these themes help you create compelling website designs quickly, no website applies everything as it is that the theme offers. There is always something in the template that needs some tweaks here and there. 

For a theme’s layout to be labeled as SEO-friendly, it requires modifications in CSS and various parts of its HTML. 

Besides, there are also other things that differ from one another, for instance, themes structures that differ in elements, naming, and hierarchy.

Sometimes, web designers also work with developers to make web design behave as they want.

Thus, such subtle differences from one web design to another can affect how Google sees a website.  

This is what Mueller further added to his above answer:

“So just because the… kind of the primary content like the blog posts that you have and the URLs themselves don’t change doesn’t mean that there’s nothing else around all of that, that search engines won’t be able to pick up on.

It can definitely affect SEO. And it can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing.

So it’s not that you need to avoid making these changes but rather when you make these changes, make sure to double-check that you’re kind of doing everything really well.”

Thus, the answer of John Mueller made it pretty clear that while you shouldn’t avoid updating your website layout, you need to be careful that you are using best practices and not overlooking anything that demands attention no matter if it is just a small icon. 

We understand that updating a web design layout can be overwhelming especially if you don’t have technical knowledge of website design and redesign, or you are too busy to do it yourself. At such times, you should get professional help to analyze the design and layout of your website, identify sections or elements that can affect your website’s ranking, and make improvements accordingly. 

Vijaya Tyagi

Vijaya Raj Laxmi Tyagi has been an avid content writer for over five years with a keen interest in writing SEO articles and blogs. She also finds great enthusiasm in writing about a vast variety of topics, including gardening, interior designing, health & wellness, and tourism. Her educational background in Computer Science and Engineering has given her an edge to write about technologies that tend to mark a great impression on daily lifestyle and behaviour, while her intrigue towards Mother Nature drives her to discuss green topics.