Help! Why is an Ugly Website Ranking Higher Than My Newly Redesigned Website?

Last updated: Search Engine Optimization 3 min read
Updated: January 29, 2018
Is there a competitor’s site that is unattractive but ranks higher than yours on Google? Did you recently redesign your site with a look that is far superior but it’s not bringing more traffic to your website? Here are some tips from our web design team to help you improve your website and avoid this issue.
Raleigh Website Design

Google Sees Code

A visually appealing website does not mean it is technically sound. Google may see ugliness in the code on the backend of your website that is not apparent until you dig a little deeper. What Google sees on a website is the code in languages like HTML or PHP – it does not see visuals. Google does not know the difference between a cute puppy picture and the picture of a slug. To see what a website looks like from Google’s perspective, enter the URL into the free tool This tool shows you the heading on the website and internal and external links. The SERP Preview section indicates how the page shows up in Google when someone searches for it. This is the first step in how to determine why the other site is ranking higher than yours.

Label Your Images

As mentioned above, Google sees all images as code. That code can help with your SEO if the titles and alt text of the images on your site have been customized. Right-click on the images on your competitors’ ugly website – perhaps they have all of their images labeled with keyword rich text, which benefits their ranking. With the rush to get a website launched or redesigned, image names are often overlooked when they are being added to the website. The images on the site may have names that have nothing to do with your business or the content of the pictures itself, such as “16777215_DCIM_Picture.jpg”, “websitephoto3.jpg”, “BobandSpot.png.” This does not help Google serve this picture correctly in your search results. Rename your image before loading it onto your website – or correct the ones already on your site – to reflect your keywords or target market. For a dog trainer, the picture of a cute puppy above with the title and alt-text of “DogTrainingRaleigh.jpg” or “RaleighObedienceTraining.png” would assist Google in determining what the picture represents and what search result to display it for, thereby strengthening your SEO.

Gain Backlinks

Google looks for backlinks – other sites linking to yours – in determining which placement in the search results it should give each website. Tools such as or have free features that allow you to look at all the backlinks coming into your and a competitor’s website. Enter in the URL and click on the Inbound Links section to see details on each of the links. See if your ugly competition that is higher ranking has more backlinks to their website than you do – that may be another way they outrank you in search results.

Other Reasons for a Lower Ranking

Some other reasons your website may be lower ranking in Google than an ugly competitor:
  • You have a new domain name. Google gives higher credence to domains that have been established for a long time
  • You’ve only registered your domain for only one year. Websites registered for multiple years are interpreted as more legitimate by Google
  • Google may be penalizing your site. Read more about Google penalties here
  • You paid to privatize your Whois information. When you setup your domain initially, did you pay extra to hide your contact information from people? Google may see this as sign that your business may not be legitimate or you’re trying to hide something.
Remember that a beautiful new website design is not always a technically sound website, and therefore can rank lower than an ugly website design. There can be an ugliness on the back end of a visually appealing site that Google does not like. At TheeDigital, we build great looking websites that are also technically sound and optimized to get you rankings and traffic!
Do you need help improving your website’s search engine ranking? Contact the internet marketing and SEO experts at TheeDigital of Raleigh, NC. Give us a call at 919-341-8901 or schedule a consultation.

Tags: Search Engine OptimizationWeb Design

Richard Horvath

Owner / President

Richard Horvath is the founder of TheeDigital, a Raleigh based award-winning web design and digital marketing agency. He is proud of his team and the results that they provide to their clients.

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