In a recent Google Office Hours, someone asked John Mueller—Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst—if simply changing the layout of a web page can affect rankings.
Mueller answered quickly and directly that it could—even if the page content and URL structure were unchanged.
Here’s Mueller’s answer in full (emphasis ours):
Changing the layout of your pages can affect your search results.
This is something that some people work on actively as well regarding 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.
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.
Check out the full Google Office Hours here:
What It Means
So, all this is to say that if you’re tweaking your layout and making changes to CSS or HTML, you may see a change in your rankings for the better or worse.
Updating your site is inevitable, though. Out-of-the-box web templates tend to need a lot of tinkering to get the layout how you want and behaving properly.
If your site’s already published and indexed, you’ll probably find minor fixes that need adjusted here and there as you work through it.
Whether it’s adding or removing headings, altering paddings and margins, updating colors, or anything else aesthetic, you’ll no doubt find things to address for months to come—and that’s not even accounting for planned updates.
To mitigate the risk of dropping in rankings, it’s a good idea to make improvements in larger batches. That way every little tweak isn’t moving the needle.
As you go through your site, make note of things that need addressed. When you find something wrong that’s not an emergency, just add it to your notes to address with the others in one fell swoop.
Barge Marketing Is Here to Help
Web development is no easy feat. Making sure your page is set up right for SEO takes time and knowhow—that’s where we come in! Our web development experts have years of experience building the best and most effective sites for our clients. It all starts with a meeting.
Our onboarding process uncovers everything we need to know about your company, brand, product, audience, competition and more. We offer full site builds, updates, and can even cook up smaller sites in as little as a day.
Don’t entrust your company’s success to just anyone. We know web development and we know success—and we’ll be with you every step of the way. To see how Barge Marketing can help you, contact us here, chat with us online or call us at 614-907-7577.