What Design Elements Affect Your SEO?

By Daniel Scocco

questions and answersThis post is part of the weekly Q&A section. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

Colby asks:

Daniel – what do you think of the SEO strategy using different colors and font sizes in a post? Personally, I think it distracts the reader and changes the focus away from the content. What do others think?

I am not a fan of those strategies either, for two reasons. First of all, as you mentioned, they often times go against the interests of your readers. Using colors and different font sizes just to communicate to search engines that those words or sentences are “special” would affect negatively the visual appeal of your content.

If you do this naturally and with user experience purposes in mind, then I would say it is OK. Using colored post titles and sub-headers, for example, is both SEO sound and useful for the readers.

The second reason is related to the real effectiveness of those techniques. Although I agree that search engines certainly analyze many design and layout elements on a web page, I don’t think that they put too much emphasis on font colors and sizes.

The usage of the bold and the italics typefaces are also interpreted by search engines, although lately I suspect that they are losing value too, because people always try to manipulate those (i.e. by making their main keywords on any given post bold).

I believe that more important than those are the meta elements. That is, the tags and attributes that go behind the scenes on a web page (i.e. inside the HTML code).

The H1, H2, H3 tags, for example, are taken into consideration by search engines to determine the structure of your content, and to filter the most important sections out. Your single post page titles should therefore always be wrapped by H1 tags (as opposed to using the H1 titles on your blog name or logo, as many people do).

Finally, it is also important to make sure that your main content comes as soon as possible on your code. That is, if you have a sidebar and a main content area, structure your design in a way that the main content area loads first, and after that the sidebar, footer and so on.

You can take a look on the code of Daily Blog Tips for example. Right after the navigation bar the main content column loads, and after that the left and then the right sidebars.




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14 Responses to “What Design Elements Affect Your SEO?”

  • FernandoG

    And what about uppercase? I’m starting to adapt a template that transforms titles in uppercase (text-transform:uppercase). I’m not sure yet if I’ll keep it like that, but if it has some kind of SEO influence I’d like to know it.

    Thanks!

  • Ikki at SEO Blog

    In my opinion search engines doesn’t take into consideration font color and sizes when ranking your site.

    Strong tags, emphasis tags and heading tags (h1, h2, h3, etc.) are the ones that in theory add some weight to your contents – specially the latter ones.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ikki, I don’t think font color and font size have a strong impact on SEO either, but I have seem many people claiming that they are at least considered.

    I am not sure if I remember it correctly, but I think that Bill Slawski once reviewed a patent that talked about font sizes and colors being analyzed by search bots.

    A larger font will almost always sign a title or an important message, after all, so it does have some correlation.

  • Ikki at SEO Blog

    @Daniel: Maybe you’re right. However, these are all suppositions. We can’t really tell if search engines do take into account design elements like color and font size when ranking a page because there’s no official documentation about it and there’s also the fact that most search engines change their algorithms quite frequently.

  • Brent Riggs

    I’m not a fan either…. just put up good, relevant content… keep your site neat, uncluttered, fast loading, and interesting…. SEO will take care of itself for the most part… I’ve been down both roads.

    Brent Riggs
    http://www.brentriggs.com

  • Susan Salaki

    Maybe this has changed recently, but I was under the impression that large font size is important but that it also eats up just how far a search engine will go into webpage. So if you use large fonts and colors early in the webpage, the search engine may take that info and leave before it examines the rest of the page.

  • BLOGBOOZE

    In some posts I have used multiple colors for fonts, underlining, bold, italic but not many font sizes. I think it doesn’t matter what you do but what matters is not overwhelming the reader with too many things.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ikki, that is the case with any SEO element, even with title tags for example.

  • Matt Gio

    I think that larger font sizes keeps readers going because of course it’s easier to read, plus you are going to get a greater audience because everyone can read big but not everyone can read small

  • gendut

    still learn about this topic……… I will be back for comment, thanks

  • Susan Salaki

    I agree that larger font sizes are appealing to most readers but I still believe that search engines will only dish out so many bits when examining a page and larger font sizes eat up those bits fast.

    That’s why professional websites like google and windows use small fonts for everything but each visitor has to option to enlarge the page to a comfortable reading size.

  • Justin Brooke

    Colors and fonts used will only make the reader understands the content- if these are properly used. And improper use of colors and fonts will only make their lives difficult.

  • medyum

    I agree that larger font sizes are appealing to most readers but I still believe that search engines will only dish out so many bits when examining a page and larger font sizes eat up those bits fast.

  • Michael

    I have a suspicion that when using White Font text (‘ffffff’) that you will be walking a thin line in terms of search enging ranking.

    We are ranking number one on Yahoo for ‘Norfolk Website Designers’ but on page 9 or 10 on Google. Frustrating that this happens, but i guess the funs trying to figure it out!

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