The Difference Between SEO and Web Design

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The Difference Between SEO and Web Design

And Why You Need Them Both

A client recently approached us with this question: What’s the difference between SEO and Web Design? Doesn’t good web design take care of any SEO you need?

The best way to approach this question is to start by looking at what each focuses on. For instance, web design is focused primarily on pleasing the user, or website visitor. SEO, however, is more focused on pleasing search engines, like Google. Both are equally important, though.

Let’s go a little deeper.

Web Design:

As was just mentioned, when building a website, the user experience should be the main focus. Does the site look good? Is easy to navigate? Does it respond to mobile devices? Are people sticking around or leaving quickly? Is the site easy to use – like the store or for signing up? These are all questions to ask when building a website.

Web design contributes to engaging and converting visitors. Good design can lead more people into making purchases, signing up, or sharing your content. But realize, all of that happens once people are on your site, not before.


So, before those people visit your site, SEO is the major player. SEO works to get people to your website. SEO utilizes strategic keywords on your website and off-site links to your website to get Google’s attention. Once Google recognizes your site as an authority it will rank the site higher and higher in it’s search rankings. The higher you rank the more likely searchers will visit your site. SEO is all about visibility.

Here’s the thing about SEO. Without good SEO (meaning without consistent visitors to your website) it can be difficult to asses the quality of your web design. The more people that visit your site, the better you’ll be able to test it.

Where the two meet:

There are, however, several areas where web design and SEO intersect. One of the most important areas where we see this is with website loading speed. Google will rank sites lower if they take longer than a few seconds to load. A fast, responsive website offers a good experience for the user, while also helping to boost website rankings. Content quality also plays a big role in both. If you offer poor quality content on your website, you will have trouble converting and engaging visitors, while at the same time see a lack of respect from Google. Google wants to give users the best experience, so you need to provide it.

So, to sum it up simply. SEO affects people before they arrive to your site and web design affects them once they’ve already arrived. It is possible to have great SEO, but terrible web design (you’ll see this if you get lots of traffic, but little conversions), and great web design, but bad SEO (people love your site, but aren’t finding it). It’s important to remember that both are necessary if you want to succeed online.

Do you want to know if your website’s design is up to snuff? Do you want to rank higher in Google to get more people to visit your site? Let us know! It’s what we do.


Brian Sherman
Brian Sherman
Brian Sherman is an author, entrepreneur, husband and father. He is the Lead Writer and Content Manager for Voixly, a Texas-based Digital Marketing Firm. He authored the book, For Real This Time, and writes for several publications online on the topics of personal development, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

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