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Google to Target "Bad Merchants"
netmeg




msg:4553525
 5:13 pm on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Danny reported on a discussion at SXSW regarding Google working on an algorithm to find and demote "bad merchants". They don't give any specifics of course, but the general feeling is to look for signals beyond reviews, because there are so many fake reviews.

Matt Cutts says:

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 donít want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.


Article here.

[searchengineland.com...]

Heads up.

 

Dymero




msg:4553588
 7:20 pm on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

With the pay-for-play Google Shopping now rolled out, I think this may well be the most controversial update ever.

Shepherd




msg:4553592
 7:29 pm on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

if (adwords=='no') {merchant='bad'}
jecasc




msg:4553593
 7:31 pm on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)


if (adwords=='no') {merchant='bad'}


Yup. Was my first thought, too.

netmeg




msg:4553599
 7:51 pm on Mar 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm thinking it's more if Google Trusted Store = no.

mihomes




msg:4555879
 8:16 pm on Mar 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've looked at the Trusted Store and everything about it stinks. There are a lot of requirements which your average 'great' store is not able to meet...ever... due to the way it works. Their definition of store is only a small portion of how people actually operate.

rish3




msg:4555906
 10:02 pm on Mar 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

My guess is this is a tactic to get people to sign on for the "Google Trusted Store" program. As with "Google Product Search", it will be free at first, as the initial benefit is to Google. Once they have enough merchants hooked, the product will be sunset, and replaced with a paid program.

MarkOly




msg:4556457
 3:24 pm on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Once they have enough merchants hooked, the product will be sunset, and replaced with a paid program.

Good call on that.

backdraft7




msg:4556690
 6:11 am on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm sure my A+ BBB rating will have no bearing on the beating about to befall our site...again.

mihomes




msg:4556691
 6:27 am on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I contacted G the other day about this as my products are mainly downloaded rather than shipped. I'm pretty sure their response was copy/paste, but basically if you can't provide shipping info on most orders you don't even qualify for the program among many other requirements. There was, however, that classic G open ended comment along the lines of they 'may' change the program in the future.

Does this strike anyone else as odd that their program doesn't support downloadable products? I mean we are talking about the web/internet.

Shepherd




msg:4556747
 10:03 am on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think they'll gain less traction with this than g+. But honestly I don't think it matters to them, really just another tool to dilute the serps.

ethought




msg:4556784
 11:51 am on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Another hurdle in the way for affiliate marketers? Will all affiliate marketing sites be labelled as 'Bad Merchants' in Google's eyes - except of course Google themselves?

claaarky




msg:4556787
 12:17 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Trusted Stores is only available to US merchants at the moment so if "bad merchant" treatment is dished out elsewhere in the world before it's available to merchants elsewhere, we'll know that's not how they're identifying bad merchants.

Mind you, the requirements are quite stringent so if you qualify and maintain the standards over a long period of time it would add a lot of credibility to your business in Google's eyes. They'd be crazy not to factor that into the algo.

Some big brands struggle to provide the sort of personal service customers really want, but this is what small business is great at, so this could be a way for smaller businesses to fight back against big brands in the rankings.

I think they must have another method for identifying bad merchants, but it would make sense for them to boost rankings for sites with great Trusted Store ratings.

@ethought
After looking at the 'Eligibility' section it looks pretty clear Google don't regard affiliates or drop shippers as 'trusted' merchants. The writing has been on the wall for years and the noose is tightening.

Shepherd




msg:4556790
 12:34 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Another hurdle in the way for affiliate marketers?


well, let's see, directly from the trusted store participation agreement:

Restrictions

No Affiliates, Drop-Ship Consolidators, or Multi-Level Marketers

Each Merchant participating in the Program must be the merchant and seller of record, meaning that the Merchant charges the customerís credit card directly and ships or causes to be shipped the customerís order. Drop-shipping is permitted, provided the Merchant is not working primarily through drop-ship consolidators or ready-made drop-shipping sites. Merchants bulk listing products fulfilled through drop-ship consolidators are prohibited. Multi-level marketing businesses are also prohibited, such as businesses that recruit members or offer rewards for recruiting others and/or selling services.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4556800
 1:05 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've had an e-commerce website for 6 years - sold tens of thousands of items to thousands of customers. I wonder - how do I prove that to Google? Hand over customer information? Do they do a test purchase from our site?

netmeg




msg:4556804
 1:24 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you're talking about the Google Trusted Store program, they require a feed of your orders and your shipping and your returns. And they give your customers the opportunity to give feedback on how you did.

If you're just saying in a general sense - we don't know what they'll be looking at yet. One thing that seems pretty obvious is that they'll be looking for fake reviews. What other things could they look at? Maybe how long you've been around, how "acccountable" you look - i.e. physical addresses, pictures/names of staff, whether you have a storefront. Large numbers of bad reviews? I'm not sure how that would work in conjunction with uncovering fake reviews, but *I* use it when I'm researching a new vendor, so seems like Google would to some degree. Social media presence? They can't really see much except for Google+, and none of my customers nor my clients customers are there.

Dunno. We'll just have to see.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4556821
 2:25 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

they require a feed of your orders and your shipping and your returns


That's interesting. The natural question is how much data will they need....names and addresses? Seems like a privacy problem if they want to dig too deep. I of course have that information, but my privacy policy is pretty standard - I don't hand over customer details to 3rd parties. Still, if Google ever cross that seemingly inevitable rubicon and demote non-Trusted Stores in Google's SERPs, or place a message in the SERPs along the lines of "[warning: not a member of our Trusted Store Program]" under non-member listings, then you can bet store owners will want to hand over as much customer info to Google as possible just to join the program and not go bust :(

MelissaLB




msg:4556826
 2:33 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

netmeg, as you know, in my other thread about the Merchant center recognizing my product feed as having problems. Is it possible that the warning we have just received about a large number of our products be tied into this? It might be a stretch, as I'm not sure if they issue these types of warnings all the time, it's just the first I've seen or heard of it.

MelissaLB




msg:4556827
 2:36 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

to clarify, I wonder if a lot of merchants are going to be recieving messages like this and if they've ramped up their manual inspections of feeds in order to crack down on incorrect product identifiers in order to find those who don't comply and mark them as 'bad merchants'.

netmeg




msg:4556838
 2:47 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I doubt it. The product feeds are now tied to AdWords and they're still trying to maintain a clear distance between what happens with AdWords and what happens with organics.

(Yea, I know, lots of people don't believe that, but that's their lookout)

Bewenched




msg:4556898
 6:40 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you're talking about the Google Trusted Store program, they require a feed of your orders and your shipping and your returns.


Umm.. that would be a violation of privacy.... and considering that Google has no real problem turning over information to the government, then there's a real problem.

Why would merchants be so willing to turn over order and customer information to a third party.

It's against our privacy policy and we wont do it.

Leosghost




msg:4556902
 6:52 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

A roll out of this to the EU would not get past legislators here ..privacy, competition, restrictive trade practices, banking and finance regulations..etc etc ..

Plus IMO..( having read the TOS there ) anyone signing upto this elsewhere would need their heads examining..giving all that data to G ( with the distinct probability that they would use it to shaft you later ) ..in response to the thinly veiled threat of ..SERPs positions might depend on this..and non participation would result in lack of our "Google trusts this site" badge..

Reads like a protection racket.."bend over to be a "trusted" site ..or it may well go badly for you in the short term"..and in the long term they'll use it against you any way ..even if only to up the cost of your adwords..

netmeg




msg:4556909
 7:34 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well in the first place, they don't take any customer information unless the customer opts in (and even then it's just the email address and country) Everything else is specific to the order, the products, the quoted shipping date and the merchant.

The shipping and return feeds are also anonymous as far as the customers, and don't include any address information. Just the order number, the shipping company and the date. They take this to make sure you ship when you say you ship.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4556916
 8:05 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just the order number, the shipping company and the date. They take this to make sure you ship when you say you ship.


(my emphrasis)

Well again - interesting. I tend to use Royal Mail (I'm in the UK) because my parcels are small. There is no "record" of such deliveries unless you choose recorded delivery which is significantly more expensive when you're sending out dozens of parcels a day. A lot of e-sellers use Royal Mail in this way. I'm sure most countries have a standard mailing setup like Royal Mail that allows for low-cost shipping. I guess it's another step toward "officialdom" where we will have to spend more on shipping just to have a paper-trail just to please Google.

[edited by: ColourOfSpring at 8:06 pm (utc) on Mar 20, 2013]

Leosghost




msg:4556917
 8:06 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

netmeg :)

That is still more information than would be legal for them to have about your customers if they ran this in the EU..

And as regards EU customers purchasing from US sites ( even if the customer "opts in" ) ..Google would still have to apply for ( and get registration approval ) before being able to hold this kind of EU customers data..yes even just email and physical address..precisely because the customer is not purchasing directly from G..

Rules are much stricter her e about who can know what and who can do what ( thankfully ) than they are in the USA..Google would probably also have to register as a credit organisation ( and be subject to the various financial services acts etc of EU member states ) in order to be able to offer their "money back" part of the deal..

IMO G will not try to roll this out in the EU..

They would not want to have to comply with all the legislation ( consumer, competition, financial services, insurance , credit, banking services etc )..and first time any EU customer ( even one who may have signed up ) has a problem with Google as a result of any of this..the pitfalls for G will be come self evident..

I would expect that EU companies ( not being eligible to "sign up" ) will also shout if they appear lower in serps ..or if the lack of G's "badge of trust" in serps appears to affect their business..

I often wonder if Larry, Sergey and Eric ( or their lawyers ) truly understand the cultural and legal differences between the USA and the rest of the world..

It frequently appears that they do not..or if they do..that they do not take them seriously enough..not every legislator can be lobb^^^^ought off..not in the EU anyway..

MS and Apple and other US corps appear to have a similar "comprehension" problem when viewing or dealing with the world outside of the USA..

ColourOfSpring




msg:4556920
 8:17 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well in the first place, they don't take any customer information unless the customer opts in (and even then it's just the email address and country) Everything else is specific to the order, the products, the quoted shipping date and the merchant.


netmeg, just realised....I guess that would mean having a tickbox on your checkout page along the lines of "can we pass on your email address to Google?" - I can't imagine a lot of people ticking that, and might even put people off buying (as a shopper, that would seem absolutely unnecessary from my - the shopper's - perspective).

IMO G will not try to roll this out in the EU..


I agree. One good thing about the EU is that's it's curtailed so much of Google's invasiveness in Europe.

netmeg




msg:4556924
 8:27 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

More along the lines of "if you want to give us feedback about your transaction with this site, sign up here" I think.

Google has plenty of lawyers all over the world, and if it doesn't pass EU legal muster, then they won't roll it out in the EU. So far anyway, there's no promise of better SERPs whether you have it or don't, and nobody's being forced into it. But from what I've seen, they're not having too much trouble getting US vendors to sign up.

Leosghost




msg:4556931
 8:37 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google has plenty of lawyers all over the world, and if it doesn't pass EU legal muster, then they won't roll it out in the EU.

Not to drag the thread off topic ..but just to say ..privacy / street view / driveby wi-fi recording /EU ongoing investigations..G's lawyers in the EU are not doing too good a job avoiding trouble for them to date..

And that is just the brief list..it actually is much bigger..so is the list of MS and other US corps errors vis a vis EU laws and culture..

So much easier to not walk into the minefield than to try to get out of it once you are in there..

So far anyway, there's no promise of better SERPs whether you have it or don't, and nobody's being forced into it. But from what I've seen, they're not having too much trouble getting US vendors to sign up.

I suspect the message from G about "not being trusted by G" is subtle enough , not to be easily seen as "forcing"..iron fist , velvet glove...US . merchants will be reading between the lines..

Marshall




msg:4556933
 8:47 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

G's lawyers in the EU are not doing to good a job avoiding trouble for them to date..

And yet, they still get paid. Nice racket.

Marshall

ColourOfSpring




msg:4556940
 9:21 pm on Mar 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

I suspect the message from G about "not being trusted by G" is subtle enough , not to be easily seen as "forcing"..iron fist , velvet glove...US . merchants will be reading between the lines..


Leosghost, like any agent with power, they don't need to be explicit. A bouncer just has to stand by a door - the implication of his role is made simply by his size and his position near the door.

Question: how often do Google reassure us little webmasters with our concerns (esp. since Panda and Penguin roll-outs)? Never. There is an overwhelming cloud hanging over every website owner that relies on Google (i.e. most websites, sadly), and Google do nothing to calm those fears. In fact, they thrive off it. Their guidelines are more a list of warnings than recommendations. GWT really IS a list of warnings and alarms to make you paranoid. Purely from a business perspective, I do not blame Google for maximising this kind of leverage.

In regards to the data that Google would require for this program, they would obviously benefit from that kind of data enormously - yes, it proves a vendor is sending out the goods, but...come on - an email address + country + order details = very very useful information for a company whose sole job is to turn that kind of valuable data into profits.

This 41 message thread spans 2 pages: 41 ( [1] 2 > >
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