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In life and in digital marketing, little things count.

From the position of your brand logo, to your choice of website color scheme – there are a wide range of factors that come together to affect an online visitor's perception and overall experience. One may argue that responses to these onsite elements are subjective. Although that's true to some extent, at the end of the day, majority rules. If most of your online visitors find a particular aspect irksome or troubling, you could risk losing a huge chunk of your market over time, so it's important to make your website easy to use.

When improving onsite elements for users AND search engines, don't limit yourself to content (especially if you know you're already winning in this aspect). User experience (UX) matters more today than in previous years. In fact, search engines like Google are making algorithm changes based on user data.

During a website audit, don't forget to check on these top three onsite elements for a better, smoother user experience.

#1 Redirects

This factor matters to both users and search engines. No one wants to click on a link or CTA button and then be directed somewhere else. Or worse: be redirected to an empty page! We often forget that the Web is a highly dynamic place. Websites move, links change, and content gets updated frequently. It's natural that a website may have a few links that are either broken or directed elsewhere.

There are generally two common scenarios for redirect issues: a) you recently changed your URL, OR b) several of your outbound links have moved. Outbound links are easy: you have the option to either change the link to a better resource OR remove it entirely. For internal links that lead to a 404 (also known as a broken link):

  • If the internal page no longer exists, replace it with a relevant page or blog post
  • If the internal page still exists, make sure it's directed to the correct URL
  • If the 404 page was indexed (appears in search engine results), remove it via Google Search Console (formally Webmaster tools)

Tricky redirects usually happen when content gets placed on URLs with and without 'www'. Did you know that search engines treat those as two separate websites? So if you just rebranded or moved to a different domain name, it's vital to setup a 301 redirect so you get to keep your past authority from existing inbound links, as well as directing users to your new site without problems.

Failing to do so will not only lead to frustrated visitors, but also possible duplicate content issues. So check with your web developer regarding proper web configuration.

#2 Navigation

Your website is like a map: users need it so they can easily locate the information that they're looking for. There are all kinds of websites, just like there are many types of maps. However, the more complicated the map, the harder it is to get the information you need. A website that contains logical internal linking will not only be for your users to navigate, but will also make it easier for search engines to crawl.

Often, it's as easy as arranging your content based on different categories or ideas. From there, you can choose to further subdivide it into more detailed pages that delve deeper into the subject or service you are offering. This is also known as the Silo technique. Remove friction from your site by providing clear links, prominent CTA buttons, and mobile-friendly elements (such as touch-ready targets). Follow this simple rule when looking for navigational issues on your website: if it takes a user more than two clicks to get to the juicy content (like blog posts), you need to reconsider your linking practices.

#3 Security

Note: this depends on your website and industry. Unless your business deals with payments, credit card information, and other sensitive data, security may or may not be a huge issue with your online visitors.

In 2014, Google announced on its official blog that it's going to include HTTPS as a ranking factor. This is important because people value security, especially on retail sites. However if you think that this is going to improve your ranking on search results, don't expect much. With more than 200 ranking factors, the chances of seeing significant changes from making the switch is slim.

Instead, do it for your users. Secure websites can be trusted with sensitive information, so they are more likely to be trusted by the users. This information doesn't have to involve credit card details; some folks would refuse to give their email address to unsecured websites.

https in address bar

So if you do decide to change to HTTPS, do so because your business needs it – not because you are after a number one spot.

Final Word

Your safest bet is to monitor your website and its performance. Don't ignore little problems – especially those affecting user experience. In the long run, these issues could develop into something worse if not resolved quickly. Online resources like Google Search Console and WooRank will let you check onsite errors that could put a damper on your customers' online experience.

Prioritizing customer experience on your website and digital marketing strategies will give you the upper hand because you'll have less to fear from future algorithm updates. Plus, positive feedback from your customers can be considered an achievement in itself.