10 web site design mistakes that reduce your traffic from Google

When we talk about getting traffic from Google, most of us will know about Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO or short. Most folks who have some knowledge about SEO will know that content and links are two primary factors that influence how much traffic your site can get from Google.  However, website design also plays an important role. Indeed, most forget that the codes which the website design are written in are also crawled and indexed by Google. If your code is not properly structure to maximize the SEO effects, you will missing out on potential a lot more traffic than you currently have.

Here are the 10 most common website design mistakes with regards to SEO.

web site design mistakes that reduces your traffic from Google

Mistake 1: Too much Flash/Ajax effects

Some website designers tend to go overboard with Ajax or Flash to create lots of  effects. While they might interesting to view, they tend to:

  • slow down your website’s loading time, which is a factor in your Google ranking
  • reduce the amount of text that Google can index and therefore rank you for

So, if you like using these effects in your website design, don’t overdo it. Replace some of these effects with text and you will soon see a rise in your Google traffic.


Mistake 2: No labels for your images

Image search is now a huge source of traffic for many websites. These traffic is especially important for businesses who rely on images to sell such as restaurants, interior design, real estate etc. Hence, it is important for us to use a file name that uses the right keywords to describe the image. Don’t label them as picture1 etc. Use proper terms that people will search for such as Gourmet Hamburgers, Washington real estate, or bamboo flooring. By doing this simple change, you will see an increase in the traffic from Google image.


Mistake 3:  Too many sidebar links

One of the most important concept in SEO is pagerank or PR for short. PR determines how often Google crawls your website and how much content will be indexed. You cannot see PR but every website will have its own score. In terms of control we cannot hoardPR but we can channel them, using links, to the page where we want the most traffic. If your sidebar has too many links, you are effectively spreading your PR across too many web pages. This resultd in a large of pages that don’t get much search traffic, in contrast to a few strong pages that get lots of traffic.


Mistake 4: Keywords missing in navigation menu

Love it or hate it, SEO is about using the right keywords in your website. Most website designers don’t suggest good keywords in the navigaton menu, which is wasting another opportunity for the website to get more traffic related to these keywords. It is an art to choosing the right terms for your navigation. If you picked terms that are too competitive, the traffic from Google for these terms will be minimal. However, if you picked terms that have search volume but are not competitive, there is a chance for you to get more traffic from Google.

For example, if you create a website for a restaurant owner, using competitive keywords such as steak or hamburgers in the navigation menu might not lead to any increase in website traffic. However, if you used less competitive terms such as best burger new york etc, you will see more traffic from people searching for burgers in new york.


Mistake 5: Too little text

Google is a text machine, period. If your website design does not include sufficient space for lots of words to be included, you are missing your chance of getting more traffic from Google. I have seen some websites where there is literally no space for words. For example, portfolio wordpress themes tend to focus too much on the picture and have little space for words, especially on the homepage.


Mistake 6: Orphan your pages

I have seen some website design whereby it is almost impossible to locate a particular page because the website design has orphan the page by not linking it from any other pages. A common way of making this mistake is with a wordpress page. Unlike article posts, which tend to automatically appear on the front page of the blog section, a wordpress page will not be automatically linked to, unless there is a section in your website (such as your navigation) which automatically displays any new pages created. Once a page is orphaned, it will be difficult for Google to crawl and indexed that page.


Mistake 7: Flat architecture design

A flat architecture design means that all your links can be accessed via a central place like your home place. This runs into similar problems as mistake 3 i.e. too many links on one page. What your should do is to create navigational pages and then link to these pages through the homepage. Navigation pages are nothing more than a listing of all similar articles in one page. Such a solution is more elegant than trying to cramp every link into the homepage.


Mistake 8: Ineffective site description

Site description is the line of words that will appear beside your website in the search results. An ineffective copy will lead to less people wanting to click on that link and visit your website. I have seen cases where websites which are ranked second getting more traffic than websites ranking number one. This is simply because the site description of the number one site does not convey anything that draws people in.  When designing a website, pay attention to how you describe your site so that it is appealing for others to want to check it out.


Mistake 9:  Keyword stuff your pages

This is the opposite of mistake 4. Instead of using too little keywords, you keyword stuff your pages to the point where they appear everywhere i.e. navigation, sidebar, footer. Worst of all, your navigation links read like a spam list such as the example below

  • real estate in Washinton
  • real estate in New York City
  • real estate in Portland
  • real estate n XX city number

If you do this, there is a strong chance that the website will receive a penalty from Google that will reduce the amount of search traffic you will get from them.


Mistake 10: Updating your website design

This is a mistake made by many including myself. We tend to stick with the initial design because there is little incentive to change anything. However, it is important to note that as a site growing in both traffic and content, there is a need to update our website to improve its navigation and/or to update content and links. Failure to do so can result in Google giving your site a lower score.

For example, many sites that you were linking to in the past might no longer be around. Keeping these links alive is not only bad for your visitor’s experience, it is also bad for Google because their crawlers will end up with dead ends. If your website does this enough times, I believe the quality score of your website will be downgraded.


Many of the mistakes mentioned here can be removed with a little bit of effort. So, if you think your traffic from Google is not growing, go through this checklist to see if things can be improved.


About the author

With a passion for Knowledge, Smashinghub has been created to explore things like Free Resources For Designers, Photographers, Web Developers and Inspiration.

Twitter Visit author website

Subscribe to Smashing Hub


  1. Sunil says:

    First of all thanks a lot for your nice 10 tips. I have a web design company and also working as a freelancer. your article will very much effective for me.

  2. Alex says:

    Very nice list! Forgetting to add alt and title attributes to images are most common! They used to drag me down too. Now, thanks to these I doubled my website traffic.

    • Ali Qayyum says:

      That is good tip to share Alex. Thanks!

    • Dzinepress says:

      can you please tell me, if we do not apply these attributes on image how can search engine crawl them exactly and also suggest i am applying same on my post sub-headings (alt and title attributes) should i remove all from existing posts?

      • Ali Qayyum says:

        It is also important to name your image files with the right keywords. However, avoid key stuffing them.
        In terms of your actual content, you can always vary different combinations of your keywords for your h2 and h3 headings to draw in more long tail traffic.

  3. Niels says:

    I agree on mistake #9, but i still see a lot of websites which stuff the footer with keywords… and they really score well in the search engines… i don’t really know how it works on the long term…. and i’m wondering if mistake #5 is really a mistake :O what if i have a webshop? there isn’t a lot content and a lot of webshops also have duplicant content

    • Ali Qayyum says:

      Yes, ecommerce stores will need to innovate beyond just product listing. They need to find some angle to create more useful content for their site. For example, an ecommerce store selling camping gear should create articles on what to bring for different locations, the mountains with the best views, how to prevent falling sick during camping etc.