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Google Zebra – Will it Stampede on Your Online Shop?

Rumours of a new Google algorithm are lurking in the halls of the online world for some time now. Matt Cutts have hinted a few months ago that a “potential launch later this year, maybe a little bit sooner, looking at the quality of merchants” and it became known as the Google Zebra.

What is the Google Zebra algorithm update all about?

In short, this algorithm will aim to slaughter the low-quality e-shops that flood the web and give only quality results for the hordes of demanding online buyers. Now what is up with Google naming penalizing and regulatory updates after cute and cuddly animals? Come on guys, this is some perverted sense of humor! But regardless of the arguments against its future existence, online shop owners better be prepared. These tricks can not only help you sleep calm but improve your services and user experience overall.

  • Optimize Product Descriptions – as with any content on the web nowadays, you are aiming for detailed and relevant descriptions. Make sure to avoid duplicate content and include at least one internal link to a higher-level navigational item. Handle carefully and don’t overuse those links.
  • Take care of your website Page Speed – you don’t need a Google Zebra (or any other animal) update to tell you that. About 50% of e-shoppers state that the loading speed of a website is a determining factor for them, neglecting shops with more than a 2-3 second load delay.
  • Make your Design Responsive – in this mobile era, where more and more people prefer to use their phones for everyday activities, you would be a fool to think you can hang there for long if you oversee this fact. You might spend a little more money on design but in the long run you can only profit from the happy campers that spread the word of their satisfaction.
  • Have in mind the Search Quality Guidelines – not so long Google have shed a little light on what factors actually affects the searches when it comes to merchants. Not mandatory to incorporate them all, but still gives a hint of transparency of what is preferred:

• 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 log in

• a gift registry that works

  • Keep a Clean Merchant Review – Google has the ability to collect all the product reviews you receive all around the web and the Google Zebra update will be unleashed upon those that were just looking for a quick buck. Keep a good relationship with all your customers, you won’t be able to remove the negative reviews you might have received, but its never late to start working in the right direction and please the masses.
  • Product Videos and Comparisons – while that is already a common thing for many respectable online shops, there are still thousands that are lacking these functionalities. You are looking for a simple, yet detailed enough user experience.

– Google Trusted Store – this one is valid only for the bigger e-shops as the requirement for a submission is accepting at least 500 transactions per month. It is believed to be a definite bonus and how can you expect any different – the Google folks also have families to feed and they do like to market their products via sudden updates “for the good of all”.

So lets recap – we have no idea when the Google  Zebra update is happening, we are not aware IF it is happening, we don’t even know if it will be called a Google Zebra or some other furry friend. What we do know is that if you want your online shop to evolve and prosper you better take in mind these tips and do your best to please your customers.

So do you think that this update will bring significant changes to your project and how are your preparing to make the best of this potential game changer?

Radoslav Chakarov

Huge music fan, from funk through hard rock and hip-hop to reggae - you name it! When not at a live show or online (rarely!) he likes chilling, surrounded by nature, with a beer in hand or riding his bicycle somewhere in the mountains.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. World Ranking System

    I don’t think Google algo changes. It’s just because other SEO experts have successfully beat you in the page rank.

    1. With all due respect, not only Google change their algorithm – they do it quite frequently. Regardless if it will be a major update like Panda or Penguin, or just some minor tweak, SEO experts all over the world are noticing changes and work on dealing with them. The article in question is not only about the gossip of this possible Zebra change, but more of a set of practical tips that will improve their services anyway 🙂

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