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The problem:

On desktop view form inputs (with labels) take less that half of width of the website and we gets big whitespace next to form which is bad for websites SEO. In the other hand forms should be surrounded by whitespace because it helps user to go fast through them (nothing distracts him) and we (probably) gets better conversion rate.

So what would be the best compromise? If we add content next to form it will distract user, if we left this space blank Google punish us. Anyone have some good idea?

Of course we can provide very long inputs that takes full width of the website but it can be confusing for user and also can look a little bit odd.

I post similar question in Webmasters Stack Exchange to see SEO point of view.

  • What evidence do you have that having lots of white space affects search performance? As the answer over on webmasters SE says, there is no reason why this should be the case. If your design looks out of balance, just have two columns of inputs. – dennislees Dec 2 '15 at 15:20
  • I've seen a few studies that shows forms should be in one column. – jazzgot Dec 2 '15 at 15:35
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    @jazzgot You may be misunderstanding what SEO refers to. Search Engine Optimization only affects how the search indexing robot will rank your page. The indexing robot looks at the "markup" aka the content and not how things are visually displayed on screen. There isn't a dichotomy. You can have a page that is both SEO optimized with correct html markup and be visually organized with proper layout with sufficient whitespace for good user experience. – nightning Dec 2 '15 at 18:42
  • This is not true, of course search robots checks how website looks, it is proven that, for example, font sizes can affect SEO. In Google algorythm there are few things to check that forces search bots to render page. The simplest example can be checking if website have enought space for every clickable element on mobile views. – jazzgot Dec 3 '15 at 9:38
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From your comment:

I've seen a few studies that shows forms should be in one column

This is precisely the kind of data you shouldn't be basing your actions on. Somewhere along your browsing and reading history you've picked up on vibrations that now make you think this can affect how a page ranks in a search engine, and this now manifests in writing as you having "seen a few studies". If you're going to refer to studies you should be able to actually refer to them.

From what understand about SEO, your decision - one way distracting, one way Google punishes - is a false one. So it’s not that you don’t have a valid question about forms, it’s just not a question about SEO vs UX.

One option is to have two columns of fields, but that raises the question of how many columns is best. The link that comes up when searching Google or this site is: Form Field Usability: Avoid Multi-Column Layouts - which makes some arguments for a single column, but discussion in the comments points out that it’s possible to use both effectively as long as they are designed well.

On that point: if your form fields look funny stretched across the container, then play around with the sizes of the fonts and fields until they don’t. Filling in whitespace for the sake for filling in whitespace, especially right next to a form, shouldn't be considered an option if ‘good design’ is a goal.

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For a form, UX should take precedence over any SEO considerations. SEO should be used to lead the user to the form through an optimised landing page, but the form itself should be totally focused on converting - which means best possible UX.

I'll leave it to the experts on the other forum to answer the SEO question but I can't see why whitespace in the design would have any impact on SEO. You might be getting confused with whitespace in the markup?

  • But what if it is for example form which adds opinion to product on product page? In this case we want to lead users from search engines directly to this page – jazzgot Dec 2 '15 at 15:36
  • "whitespace in the markup" - I can't see why this would have any SEO impact either. (?) – MrWhite Jan 1 '16 at 16:58

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