The Google Merchant Quality Algorithm Update – The small business killer?
Is your small or mid-sized business about to feel the wrath of Google? Earlier in the month, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web Spam team, spoke at a panel at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival, saying that Google is “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 raking in the search results.”
The comment was in response to a question one online retailer had, where she was concerned that a disreputable competitor was ranking higher than she was.
This is, of course, not the first time Google’s made an effort to rid the SERPs with poor-quality online sellers. Back in 2010, Google aimed to penalize merchants who offered extremely poor user experience, but not much has happened since then.
This comment by Cutts comes as a relief, and scare, to many small to mid-sized businesses. His brief comment does not provide any insight into how Google will qualify a merchant as “high quality.” As a result, much speculation has been circulating about what changes will come with this ensuing Google merchant quality algorithm update.
One look at Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines will give us some insight into what Google already deems as a quality merchant. Online features such as a shopping cart icon that when clicked doesn’t send users to another site; a return policy that provides a physical address; a way to track shipped orders and so on.
But of course with every potential Google algorithm update comes the fears that well-intentioned sites will be harmed. This particularly update is no different. For example, many online sellers use an outside site to complete transactions, thus users are sent to an external site when they click on the shopping cart icon.
Also, how much will reviews affect a merchant’s quality? If a start-up online seller joins the fray, how can she possibly compete with competitors who have accumulated thousands of reviews?
Google’s intention, of course, is to increase user experience, but does it come at a risk? Will this algorithm change favor sellers like Amazon and Wal-Mart and do harm to the small shops that are individually owned?
Whatever the answer, expect this algorithm to come to fruition later in the year. And when it does we will be prepared to help, so talk with one of our experts by calling us at 1-888-277-5429, or by filling out our contact form. We’ll be sure to help you prepare for these upcoming changes.