Sunday, August 25, 2013

Google's Zebra Update is coming...

Changes to the Search Giant's Algorithm are Afoot

Google is often described as “the Internet” thanks to its search engine and myriad of other services they offer. While this is not strictly true, it can sometimes feel like it. Google is the first thing that many users see when they open the lid of their laptops. It’s the first thing they head to when they want to find something online. The search giant’s algorithm for how they present results is a coveted secret and only those in the know can see big changes coming. The “Google Zebra” update is coming and it could hold big changes for those that depend on traffic from search results.

What is Google Zebra?

Google names their search algorithms and right now we have the Penguin algorithm. Updates to that algorithm are dubbed Panda. It was recently revealed that this update is to more gradual and less noticeable for webmasters. Therefore, it’s thought that these updates will be easier to digest and get to grips with. However, there’s something bigger for webmasters, merchants in particular, to worry about it. This is the Google Zebra update, as named by the Search Engine Journal.

The Zebra update is also known as the “Merchant Quality Update”, which was sparked by a quote from Matt Cutts at SXSW earlier this year. MrCutts works with the Search Quality team at Google and had this to say at the event in Austin, Texas:

“We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of  merchants and whether we can do a better job on that, because we don’t want low-quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.”

Essentially, this latest update to the search algorithm is a wake-up call for merchants. Those running online stores that rely on Google for much of their traffic need to take note and shape-up. Google is looking to make sure that only “high-quality” merchants will be listedin search results after the update is implemented. High quality doesn’t have to do with the type of products you are selling, whether it’s software from Maxwell Systems or Ford Mustang parts, you’ve got to make sure you are prepared for the update’s standards.

How Can You Prepare for the Zebra Update?

Nobody really knows what’s going to in the Zebra update for sure. What is known, is that it’s going to affect merchants. So, it stands to reason that if you’re running an online store and you want to continue to be ranked by Google, you’ve got to move fast. Matt Cutts spoke of “low-quality experiences” not ranking in results. How can you make sure that you will rank? You can make sure that - in Google’s eyes - you’re a “high-quality” merchant. Google finally purchased their guidelines on what makes a high-quality merchant. If you follow these simple guidelines you should be ready for the impending Zebra update.

        A “view your shopping cart” link that stays on the same site.
        A shopping cart that updates when you add items to it.
        A return policy with a physical address.
        A shipping charge calculator that works.
        A “wish list” link, or a link to postpone the purchase of an item until later.
        A way to track FedEx orders.
        A user forum that works.
        The ability to register or login.
        A gift registry that works.

The Google Zebra update is coming but, if you follow the above guidelines and make sure your online store is fit and ready, you’ll be able to carry on business as usual.


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