It has always been our intention as a digital marketing company, with an SEO focus to find exactly what Google responds to. Google alter their search parameters every year with different tweaks. Those tweaks are made in the form of algorithms and algorithms are what decipher your website and match it up to what people want to find. What people want to find we summarise as ‘user intent’.

Ok, so there are algorithms that we must be aware of and how tweaks made to them can make your website more or less visible depending on whether we satisfy what they are changing. Next is user intent to satisfy because ultimately those are the people searching for you so they are very important. The most important message here is very simple:

Google does not like anything about your site that has not been done in users interests.

What we mean by that sentence is that you have not:

  • Built a lot of spammy links over the years, as Google can question your validity on the internet and therefore question whether you satisfy users
  • If you stole content from other sites it might not think that you are giving users anything original or genuine
  • If you cram your site full of keywords then you clearly care more about rankings that you do user experience

Now that is a harsh and very real summary. You may have tried things in the past because everyone was doing it and no matter what you do you cannot escape Google’s judgement. Google has the power to make and break businesses and believe there should be a reset button for businesses who did attempt black hat SEO and are still suffering from it today.

We do not have that button and because of those algorithm changes happen annually there is sometimes more coming back to haunt you each year. SEO Traffic Lab have found its approach on honesty and integrity when it comes to untangling your SEO history and giving you a genuine map of what is needed to recover your website. Recovery happens and sometimes we recommend a brand new domain and a fresh start.

What doesn’t Google like?

There is a clear list of practices that Google can penalise you for and you need to avoid without hesitation. These are:

  • Paying for links on other websites – particularly low domain authority sites, ad-heavy sites, or generally low-quality sites that provide no connection to your industry
  • Building links just for their SEO benefits
  • Having pages devoid of any real content or substance or value to the user
  • Copying content from other websites to populate your own

There are also some more minor infringements that Google will not necessarily penalise you for but they will harm your rankings. Those are:

  • More than one page ranking for the same keywords/keyword
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Content that revolves around gaming search rather than satisfying user intent
  • Multiple versions of your site live: www and non-www, http and https
  • High bounce rate and low average session duration
  • Broken links and 404s
  • Slow site speed

Google does not like anything that users will not like. If they deliver a page in a search and it goes to a 404 page then the user will bounce off it and tell Google that was not what they needed. Equally, if they hit a page that just sells to them and has used search terms to get them there that they are not actually answering with the content they provide then the bounce rate will be high. Bounce rate and average session duration will tell Google how much people liked your content and how well you answer their search query. There is little point getting traffic that is not after what you are selling because they will leave and reduce your overall ranking power.

The only thing more important than what Google doesn’t like is what people often forget and that is: What users don’t like!

Users do not like:

  • A slow site
  • Going to sites that do not answer the questions they have
  • A messy site
  • A site that just screams sales at them
  • Images that do not load
  • Inconsistencies in pricing, descriptions, delivery costs etc
  • Pop-ups that they cannot scroll past on mobiles
  • Too much about you and not enough about them
  • 404 pages
  • A slow or complicated checkout process

What does Google like?

Google is not as complicated as you think. If you have your users needs at the fore of what you do then you cannot go wrong. Do not look for shortcuts – just look to give your audience value. Here is a list of things you can do to keep your users coming back and appease Google:

  • Put up fresh content that will keep the user experience new and interesting
  • Have a clean and helpful navigation structure
  • Link to your best pages from homepage banners that are engaging and eye catching
  • Redirect 404s where possible and try to reduce them – have a quirky 404 page to keep users on site
  • Optimise landing pages with good graphics, calls to action and content
  • Optimise product pages with a clear basket button, imagery, videos, delivery info, related items, reviews
  • Content that is linked to because it is genuinely interesting and useful to the reader
  • Transparent tactics for encouraging traffic to your website such as social media, email campaigns, special offers and useful content so you can compete for those big search terms – How to guides, explanation videos, whitepapers etc

Through all you do, always ask yourself: Are you satisfying user intent? If you are then Google will love your website because users do. If you do not then Google will show your website less. It’s simple provided you haven’t gamed the SEO in the past…then it’s a bit of a nightmare unfortunately and we would recommend seeking help.

This is just one element of looking at your site and what Google likes about your website. There are so many different elements for your website to perform, we have created this easy to follow DIY Audit Checklist for you to use to find out which elements of your website are holding your business back. Simply download it here!

eCommerce Audit Checklist