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The Search News Round Up: Google to Crack Down on Bad Merchants, Matt Cutts on Imminent Updates, Help Centre for Hacked Sites and Google Testing New SERP Features

Check out the latest news from the world of search in this week’s Search News Round Up.

Poorly reviewed merchant? Google may drop your rankings later this year

At the ‘How to Rank Better in Google and Bing’ SMX West conference, Google’s head of Web Spam Matt Cutts said Google will potentially be looking at improving search results based on the quality of merchants later this year. Cutts said:

We have a potential launch later this year, maybe a little 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…

We are trying to ask ourselves, are there other signals that we can use to spot whether someone is not a great merchant, and if we can find those, and we think that they are not all that spammable, then we’re more than happy to use those.

This news is significant for SEO as sites could suffer from a loss in organic visibility if their on- or offline customer service is poor, and they’ve received bad online reviews as a result.

Matt Cutts on upcoming Penguin, Panda and link network updates

Google logo with Panda and Penguin

In another SMX West panel revelation, Matt Cutts announced new information regarding Google’s Panda, Penguin and link network updates. Cutts revealed:

  • There will be a significant Penguin update in 2013
  • There will be a Panda update very soon – either Friday 15 March or Monday 18 March
  • Google targeted a link network two weeks ago and will be targeting another link network within the next couple of weeks
  • The Panda algorithm will soon be more integrated into their overall continuous algorithm updates

Of particular significance is the news regarding the Penguin update, as Cutts has said he expects it will be one of the most talked about updates in 2013. Also of significance is the pre-emptive announcement of a Panda update. Maybe Matt is being kind, as this may be the last ever Panda announcement?

Reports this weekend indicate there may well have been a Panda update, which has been propagating since Friday. However, as yet there has been no confirmation of this from Google.

What is not a surprise is Cutts' mention of Google's concentration on taking down more link networks. It’s also of little surprise that Panda is to be integrated into rolling algorithm updates but it’s worth noting that this may make it more difficult for SEOs to analyse losses in organic visibility.

Google launches help centre for hacked sites

Google webmasters help for hacked sites

Image source: Stateofsearch.com

Google has launched a new help centre for webmasters whose sites have been hacked. The help centre includes:

  • Step-by-step video instructions for users who have had their site hacked
  • Advice in respect of onsite security to prevent getting hacked

This is good news for the SEO community and any webmaster in general who may have been hacked. Google has produced really simple to follow video instructions that may prove particularly useful for those who don’t know what to do if their site has been hacked.

Google testing new SERP features

As reported on Searchengineland.com this week, Google appears to be testing a couple of new SERP features:

  • A ‘search within’ function in Google Instant allows users to search for key terms within specific websites before visiting the site. (See the video below for more information.)
  • Bigger green URLs also seem to be being tested within rich snippets

Since these features appear only to be being tested within Google.com at this stage, the effect of these features is as yet unknown. However, the search within feature certainly makes sense and, if rolled out worldwide, could radically change search behaviour.

And that’s it for this week! Check back every Monday for the latest instalment of the Fresh Egg Search News Round Up.



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