How Website Layout Affects Traffic

Website layout isn’t just a nice afterthought—it’s an integral part of your whole site design. Bad layout will keep your site from growing organically as people leave quickly and refuse to link back to you or join you on social media.

But what exactly is a bad website layout, and how can you avoid it? Try following these five tips:

#1.  Keep Website Layout Simple

The more complicated your website layout, the greater the chance you’ll create an unappealing layout. Worse, most people generally don’t like a complicated website layout to start with, so you’ll have to put extra effort into making a complicated layout appealing.

A complicated layout has more than two columns of text, images, advertisements, and navigation menus. It tries to do more than one thing on each page, and in doing so it distracts the reader from the one thing you most want them to do. Sometimes these distraction can hamper website readability and that is not what we want.

A complicated website layout can also cause Google and other search engines to incorrectly index your page, costing you valuable organic search traffic. That’s because what’s obvious to you, the webmaster, may not be obvious to the search engine spider which indexes your page.

To see what the search engine spider sees, go into your Web browser settings and turn off the default CSS stylesheet. Suddenly your page will lose most or all of its styling elements. If you can’t figure out where your content ends and your navigation begins without styling elements, don’t expect the search engine to figure it out either.

Please see how SEO works under the hood of your website. SEO can help determine a good website layout.

#2.  The Opposite Of Complicated Website Layout

The opposite of a complicated website layout is obviously a clean website layout. But what exactly does that look like, and how can you add essential elements—such as advertisements—to a clean layout?

A clean layout doesn’t unnecessarily distract the reader. Take for example the Apple website or an product page. Both of these websites use a linear flow—navigation elements are at the top and then every element below has its own section, including advertisement elements. You can read each page from top to bottom without ever being distracted by sidebar items.

If your website relies on advertisements, look for clean examples among large advertisement-driven sites such as major newspapers and online magazines. Most of these sites display a block of text, a large “square” advertisement, another block of text, and then links to more articles at the bottom. It’s clean, undistracting, and it invites readers to click either the advertisement or the additional stories, so you increase either your advertisement revenue or your number of pageviews.

#3.  Internal Traffic Is King

Ask almost any website entrepreneur and they’ll tell you getting traffic to their site is the most difficult challenge. But all the work you do to get someone to your site is wasted if you can’t keep them there until they do whatever it is that makes your site profitable, such as buying a product or clicking on an advertisement.

Good website layout will help you better manage your internal traffic. If people aren’t distracted by your layout, they’ll stick around longer, giving you more opportunities to sell to them.

#4.  How Website Layout Affects Referrals

If people stick around on your website longer, not only will this reduce your bounce rate, they’ll also come to know you or your brand better. And the better they know you, the more likely they’ll recommend you to other people through their blog or social media connections.

So even though it seems indirect, good website layout can significantly boost your incoming links and incoming traffic without costing you anything extra.

#5.  How To Create A Good Website Layout

To create a website layout which will attract and retain traffic, follow these six steps:

1.   Remove Distractions

Do you need all those navigation links? Do you need all of those advertisements? Do you need all of those links to other information on your site? If not, get rid of them or blend them into your page layout better so they don’t distract your visitors from the number one thing you want them to do.

2.   Use Less Style

Don’t strip your page down to bare bones, but avoid any unnecessary color, images, and blocks. Not only do these make your site harder to read but they can also prevent search engine spiders from parsing your website correctly.

3.   Make it Linear

Make every element of your site follow another element so readers can simply scroll down your page. This is an extension of step one, above, but it helps you use a proven website layout method.

4.   Stand Back

Google calls this the ten-foot test—you stand ten feet back from your computer monitor and try to figure out what step each page on your website wants you to take next. If it’s not obvious what you want your readers to do when you look at your own page from ten feet away, it probably won’t be obvious to your readers even up close, so take a moment and stand back from your screen.

5.   Use Google Website Optimizer

Use Google Website Optimizer (now known as Google Analytics Content Experiments) to find the best layout for your site. It will be simple, uncluttered, linear, and clear for most sites, but you can’t be absolutely sure your site works until you’ve scientifically tested your website layout.

6.  Use the Right WordPress Theme

I have my premium themes toolbox and all of the WordPress themes very simple and minimalist themes. I let the content shine through and never have a complicated layout.


  1. says

    Hi there. Really a great post. Last time in Oct 10, 2012 Googel has been updated Page Layout algo. According to that your page should be simple and take less loading time. Thanks for sharing it.
    Smartkathy recently posted..Christine Appleby

  2. Gel Maine says

    Hey mitz,
    Lay outing is the most essential part in building a website. This will be serve as your bait for visitors to visit your website. I do agree that simple yet eye-catching website are more visited than other website that has complicated lay outing. The fact is this, people are more interested in simple one nowadays because they don’t like figuring out where and what to read in your website. People nowadays are time conscious, they want to rush things.

    Also, simple website are fascinating to browse and read specially when it has great and informative contents..

    Great post!
    Gel Maine recently posted..What Makes Filipino the Best SEO Virtual Assistants?

  3. Shane says

    i think layout is one of the most important things you can control on your blog. If your layout isn’t easy to follow and work with then people will not want to stay on your site and miss the information you are trying to portray.
    Shane recently posted..Why keyword negatives are important

  4. Pete Jackson says

    The main key to reach your website in top most rank is generating more traffic for your site. In this reason website layout is very important part. So try to make easy, simple and attractive layout which will help to make more traffic and viewers for your website.

  5. says

    Your advice on creating a good website layout is really nice and understandable. Thanks.Keeping the Website simple is something that is very often overlooked and underrated but my opinion is that clean Websites are usually better ones.
    Delmer JeffersonMason recently posted..Lexus RX 350

  6. Branden Wilson says

    Keeping the Website simple is something that is very often overlooked and underrated but my opinion is that clean Websites are usually better ones.

  7. Maja says

    Hello Mitz
    It is very imporant for online business, the stay of reader on the site.It is only possible the pages must be attractive and meet the requirements of online business.Layout have much importance in this regard
    Maja recently posted..A Chance to Avail the Coupons

  8. Nicol says

    I believe replying to your reader’s comment will help you out to make more money in long run. I loved your point of adding a page to publicize your referrals; I will definitely implement this for my blog. Thanks for great share!

  9. sulman qamar says

    i want to learn about website layout any body tell me the source . if you any body take class online so inform me as sooon as possible …

  10. Ajay Gupta says

    Traffic on my blog just doubled after doing some major improvements in layout. Yes it does affect the traffic, i agree.

  11. says

    When i started blogging I had a complicated theme. It had a lot of stuff going around, and it didn’t generate any adsense clicks. It took me some time to realize that a simple design converts better.

  12. says

    website layout will affect bounce rate, average page per visit, times per visit and many more. I have to say thank you for you mitz, this is the information that i’ve been searching for. I’ve got many insight from this post. I will implement your six steps above to create good website layout..thanks for sharing mitz
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  13. says

    I like simple layouts because it gives the reader enough room, and space to read my post. I know a lot of new bloggers focus more on the design, and they completely forget about the content. The design should ehlp showcase the content, not be the main focus of the page.

  14. Prakash says

    Simple layout for website is good for getting good amount of traffic. If website is too complex then we loose our loyal visitors too.
    Nice post.

  15. Alok says

    If you have a website than traffic is very important on it and if you want to to get more traffic on your website. So your websites layout and structure play important role for it. make your website layout simple and unique for attracting more engage more people on your websites.

  16. GoodTrader says

    In everything I do attempt that the end result be simple and effective. The layout of my website included.

    Over the years I’ve noticed that the effectiveness is achieved with simple things, away from excessive complexity and elements that divert from the goal to be reached.

    From time to time I review my website to find and remove unnecessary items. Less is more.
    GoodTrader recently posted..Preview of the Members Section of Stop Market Risk

  17. says

    I too had a complicated theme and when i changed to more simpler theme, the number is users online sky rocketed. I think when a user lands on a website, the first five-ten seconds are extremely important. Having a attractive but user friendly theme is important.

  18. Harry says

    such great tips! we all need to focus on simple and efficient layout. It’s not only good for SEO but also help the viewers easy to use our sites. Thanks for great post!

  19. says

    Awesome!!!!! Simple website layouts attract people. Design should be clean,simple and easy to understand.It is really interesting.Nice post
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    • mitz says

      Yes there are too many advantages to mention here in one post!! I like to keep everything simple…and that is it! :)

  20. Kristine says

    I definitely agree on this, I find that when a person reading your post finds the layout too colorful or too crowded it discourages them from reading the entire thing. This is something we have to avoid.

  21. Imran Anwar says

    yeah you are right but now google also counts website layout more simpler without graphics websites don’t rank well until having great visual impact on google and users also. but be simple and provide easy to read content that’s it.
    Imran Anwar recently posted..10 Requisites for Professional Bloggers

  22. says

    Simple and attractive websites layout works good. One should not go over the borad for trying things. Thanks for this great info, Mitz.

  23. Doug Danial says

    I always love to check out websites that look professional and clean. I know then that it’s a dedicated business. Complicated websites never look professional.

  24. says

    I totally agree with you on this. Even as a viewer I\’m really picky about the sites I visit, if they don\’t look at all appealing, I have this thing in my head saying that it isn\’t worthwhile reading.

  25. says

    HI Mitz, great article as always, I completely agree with keeping the website as simple as possible. Not too many ads, and if so, keep them simple, not too flashy and distracting from the real product that you want to sell.

  26. says

    In my humble opinion, its rly important to have a “good” website layout, which wont make people exit ur site after like few seconds. Layout has to be intrested, so people want to explore it more and more :)

  27. Jasmine says

    I also like to use simple website layouts. They are easier to maintain as they have less complicated structures, and for our users, it will be easier for them to navigate.

    I think the easiest way around is to use a minimalist theme (if you are on WordPress). Those themes from people like Elegant Themes are professionally designed, so you know they won’t disappoint!
    Jasmine recently posted..Looking for Free Web Hosting

  28. jocelynverna says

    Lay out design for websites depends also of the niche. Some looks good complicated when there website is all about structural designs but a blogger mom need a simple, pastel colored websites that also attracts her own tribe. One won’t be confused finding the website set up if a reader is too eager to know about discovering a website.

  29. Ali Zia says

    Hi Mitz,
    Simple but unique website design attract visitors .Don’t keep so much advertisements on your blog this can leave very bad effect on your visitors.
    You have shared nice info’s about website layout and how it attract visitors.Keep it up, looking for the next post
    Ali Zia recently posted..How to get free images for your blog posts

  30. says

    Same thing for me, though I love wonderful and colorful layout on a website but I even also hate site that is so complicated and has several pop up advertisement (i.e. bitly, adfly. and other affiliate link). It is so annoying that those pop up ads will have to be clicked before you read something on that site. Your visitor might be pushed away because of that stuff.
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  31. says

    I remember days when websites were really complicated with elaborate designs, bunch of shadows, gradiants, etc. Now the simpler the site is, the better. Great post, thanks for the info.
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  32. says

    Designing an efficient layout is essential for any successful blog, in order to lower the bounce rate and to highlight the content. Blogs with proper layouts will always perform better in terms of conversion.
    Julian recently posted..Garage Shelves Plans

  33. says

    That’s a good post. I am currently working on getting more traffic to my site, but improving my layout and optimize it for the visitors is a task on my todo list, too. I think I have to look up Google Website Optimizer, that sounds like a good method to improve the layout.

  34. Rajkumar Jonnala says

    Yeah right i too agree with your point absolutely, the design must be as simple as possible and attracting too at the same time. Thnaks for the post.

  35. Kim says

    Mitz, I want to add one more point in your valuable points is when will you think to design or re-design your website layout, ask your web designer to make layout responsive too. Responsive design will make your website mobile friendly that will sure increase your traffic.

  36. Aasma says

    Nice tips Mitz,

    Users like simple and clean website layout, that helps them to easily navigate your website. You should also use ads and affiliate links with delicacy so that it won’t hurt your visitors experience.
    Aasma recently posted..PG in Delhi for Girls

    • says

      I agree with you 100% Simple is best! So many new web designers want to put in all the glitter and bling because it’s there and they can. Even those wanting others to build them a website want it to flash and look “cool” but sometimes cool doesn’t cut it and the visitors are put off or get lost. I have always gone on the simple side…and it has worked so far!
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  37. Brenda Macalino says

    Great advice in here, it’s been a long time that I’m looking for a topic like this, because I dont know how to use a a effects for traffic like this…
    Brenda Macalino recently posted..לייטמן

  38. says

    Hi Mitz,

    I fully agree that keeping a simple easy to understand web site is a great idea. There can be a strong temptation to make a website complicated in an effort to make “my site” special.

    I went to a high traffic web site this week that had all kinds of motion on it and it made it very hard to read. I was interested in her content but it was so distracting I left the site. I wonder how many others did the same. I hope not….. maybe I’m easily distracted!

    I also like the idea of the 10 foot rule what a great idea that is useful from setting up your web site to buying carpet. It really helps to get an “overview” by backing up and looking at your piece of art before it is published.

    ……I am going to check out “Google Website Optimizer” ….. not familiar with that one …..must be one of those dusty parts of Google Analytics that I have not explored. 😉

    My Best,
    Stephen recently posted..Promoting Your Blog …. Gravatar Avatar

  39. says

    If to be honest, then this kind of information was completely new for me. I didn’t expect that website layout can influence so much on its traffic, and has so much meaning. But after reading this post, I understood that it’s really true and there is a golden mean in all these thoughts

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