How A Bad Web Design Will Hurt Your SEO
If you do a little poking around on the web you'll find an amazing amount of articles dealing with the conundrum of good design verses good SEO. It turns out that these things aren't actually at odds with eachother but in fact, a good design can actually help your Search Engine Optimization efforts. And likewise, a bad design can hurt your Search Engine Optimization efforts. Here's Why:
A Gorgeous Design
It's true, Google can’t grade the looks of your website (yet) but it can gauge the reaction of your site's visitors. Good looking websites tend to keep people engaged so they stay on your site longer and it stops people from clicking away which means it keeps your bounce rate low. Google utilizes user feedback metrics like bounce rate so anything you can do to improve the user experience is going to be a big win in the area of SEO.
It doesn’t have to be a completely custom design but it is reasonable to assume that Google looks less favorably upon websites that use free or even premium themes but do absolutely nothing to make it their own. I’d imagine that Google takes this stance because it is reasonable to say that a webmaster who hasn’t bothered to get the basics of a website right is unlikely to be creating something high-quality in the long run. That might be an over-simplification and a sweeping generalization but Google is trying to crunch vast swathes of data and web pages, it doesn’t have the time to individually review every page out there.
Remember, Google is not the bad guy in the SEO game. The key is to present yourself/website accurately and honestly with a well thought out game plan on how you want your users to experience your site. A good experience means longer visits, less bounce rate and repeat visitors. These things all add up in Google's book toward better SERP's. And the opposite is true as well. A poor user experience will result in visitors jumping of your site quicker than you can say SEO which means higher bounce rate and overall lower SERPs.
Better Design = Better SEO
Bad Design = Bad SEO