SEO Case Study: How Website Design Impacts Backlink Acquisition

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Significant Increase in Backlink Acquisition: Following the website redesign, there was an immediate and significant increase in organic backlink acquisition rates. Comparing the three months post-redesign to the three months prior, the site received 147% more backlinks (79 vs 32).
Enhanced Visual Identity Boosts Credibility: The redesign utilized the GeneratePress theme and Canva Pro for original imagery, significantly enhancing the site’s professionalism and perceived trustworthiness. Given that 75% of users assess a business’s credibility based on its website design, these improvements likely contributed to higher backlink acquisition.
Professional and Consistent Design: The redesign established a consistent visual theme across the site, making it easier for users to engage with content and enhancing the overall user experience.
Impact of Content and Design on SEO: The redesign not only updated the look but also addressed outdated content, which improved the site’s position as a reliable and appealing source for content creators seeking to backlink, further evidenced by the increase in high-quality links from reputable domains.

Affiliate Disclosure: I’m partnered with GeneratePress, a high-quality WordPress theme I like and use on multiple websites. If you need a lightning-fast and beautiful WordPress theme, I can’t recommend GeneratePress enough. If you buy it through my affiliate link somewhere on this page, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Why I Decided it was Time to Redesign My Website

I launched this website ( in early January of 2020, and it remained visually the same with only minor changes since its inception.

In January 2024, I decided to completely redesign the website.

I did this for four main reasons:

1) The website began as a personal blog and my SEO and content marketing playground.

It served its purpose well, and I learned a lot, publishing about 120 articles in the broader digital marketing niche.

The site grew to be a respectable DR 40 domain and was never negatively impacted by an algorithm update over the years.

However, it looked and felt very outdated, and I wanted to modernize it.

Additionally, I started an SEO agency that needed an online presence, and I chose to use this domain.

2) The second reason concerned the content itself.

Much of the information on the site was outdated, as most content was published by early 2021.

I felt I could no longer stand behind some of it because things had changed in the past 2-3 years.

3) Besides the outdated information, the website design was outdated as well.

Before the revamp, I was using royalty-free images and a very simple, unimpressive blog post layout, which made the entire site look cheap and amateurish.

4) Lastly, this redesign gave me an opportunity to conduct various tests and create case studies, like the one you’re reading now, that would inform my future client work and help other website owners in similar situations.

How I Uplifted the Visual Identity of the Website

The goal was to completely revamp the visuals of the site without breaking the bank.

I chose the GeneratePress theme for its value and features, and used Canva Pro to create original images for all of my approximately 120 articles.

I had three major goals for this redesign:

  • Making the website look more professional and trustworthy
  • Creating a sense of visual uniformity throughout the website
  • Making it easier for readers to consume the content

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the homepage and a random blog article to showcase the difference between the old and new site design:

The old version was built with Elementor, while the new version uses the GeneratePress theme.

I’m not typically a web designer, but I believe the new version looks and performs better in every way.

Not to mention, it also runs better, as GeneratePress is one of the fastest WordPress themes available.

Website speed aside, let’s delve into the details of how this redesign affected backlink acquisition rates.

SEO Case Study Results

Web design significantly impacts user trust.

Statistics show that 75% of users assess a business’s credibility based on its website design.

It’s reasonable to suggest that credibility from enhanced web design also affects backlink acquisition rates.

When content creators seek information online, they visit various websites.

If they encounter multiple pages with similar information, website design crucially influences which site earns a backlink, as better-looking websites appear more trustworthy.

This was evident in the increase in backlink acquisition rates on my site in the three months following our website redesign compared to the period before the redesign.

To demonstrate, here’s the backlink acquisition graph for my site over the past 16 months:

Each point on the graph shows the number of backlinks the site received that month.

Going from 4 backlinks in Jan 2023 all the way to 34 backlinks in Apr 2024, a 750% increase.

This data was sourced from Ahrefs, a professional SEO tool that contains one of the largest backlink databases in the industry.

Sure, it’s entirely likely Ahrefs did not index every single backlink pointing to my website so the data might not be 100% accurate, but even with that in mind, the upward trend is undeniable.

As a reminder, the redesign of my website started in early Jan and finished by Jan 20th 2024.

Since then, the website started gaining backlinks at disproportionately higher rates.

In fact, in February, March, and April of 2024 combined, the site gained 79 backlinks which is more than it received in the entire year before (72).

Comparing the last three months with the three months prior, the site received a staggering 147% more backlinks (79 vs 32).

These numbers clearly show a correlation between improved web design and how people, including other content creators, perceive a website.

And here are some of the backlinks the site acquired organically since the redesign:

These backlinks are what Ahrefs calls “Best Links”, meaning they come from domains of DR 30 or higher that get at least 500 visits per month.

In other words, cream of the crop.

Wondering what type of content organically attracts free backlinks?

The answer is linkable assets aka data-oriented content like statistical posts, case studies, infographics, tools, calculators, checklists, etc.

Read my case study on acquiring backlinks with content alone and find out my results on acquiring backlinks organically with linkable assets!