The Google Zebra update is almost here. The update was announced by Matt Cutts in Austin, Texas. He revealed that Google is working on a major algorithm update to remove the rankings of low quality online merchants from search results. As an online merchant, you need to take measures to protect your site against Google penalization.


The aim of the update is to make online shopping more efficient by delivering the most relevant search results. Only high quality customized websites will survive the onslaught that will be unleashed by Google Zebra. Here is what you need to do to protect your site:

1. Get Credible Reviews For Your Site

Google relies on reviews to determine the authenticity of merchant websites. Google Product Search collects reviews from different sites on the internet. Google evaluates both the rank given by the reviewers and the trustworthiness of the reviewers. If your site has negative reviews, it will probably be eliminated from search results. Save it by ensuring that you have excellent reviews on professional review sites.

2. Join The Google Trusted Shopping Stores Program

Joining the program will offer your site solid protection against the devastating consequences of the Zebra offensive. The certification will ensure that your site is safe from the oncoming update and future algorithm updates. The program will also enable you to improve sales and reach new customers since it increases customer confidence in your site.

3. Adhere to Google Search Quality Guidelines

The search quality guidelines contain hints about what Google will be looking for when determining the quality of merchant sites. Google states that a merchant does not have to comply with all the guidelines, but it is advisable to comply with most of them. They include: A working gift registry; the ability to log-in or register; a functional user forum; a functional shipping charge calculator; a “Wish List” badge; an effective return policy inclusive of a physical address, and a viewable shopping cart.

4. Verify Content Authorship

Verify that you are the author of the content on your site by linking your site to Google authorship markup. Google uses the authorship markup feature to verify that the person claiming to have created content is indeed the content creator. When implementing the new algorithm, Google will pay attention to authorship so as to get rid of sites whose owners engage in article spinning.

5. Have a “Live Chat” Feature

The main aim of the Zebra algorithm is to increase the level of convenience for online shoppers. Having a “Live Chat” feature is the ultimate way of increasing shopper convenience. The feature also increases the chances of getting positive reviews. Google will spare your site due to the ease of shopping on your site.

6. Have Concise and Transparent Company Policies

One of the obvious things that Google Zebra will be looking for is the clarity of your company consumer policies. Ensure that aspects such as “Terms and Conditions” and “Privacy Policy” are accessible and easy to find. It is also recommendable to ensure that your site complies with all the relevant consumer policies and laws.

It is better to be safe than to be sorry. Take the relevant measures now to avoid future regrets. Identify and seal all the loopholes that may make your site vulnerable to an algorithm update. If you do so, your site will not be removed from search results and it will keep ranking highly.

Author: Josip Ivanovic is a general manager of Dejan SEO d.o.o. ( ), an internet marketing company from Croatia. When I am not working I like drinking beer with my friends in my favorite caffee, or doing sport stuff like riding a bike, skiing, or simply just walking.