At the popular SXSW conference Friday, Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts announced that Google will be soon going after bad merchants with a new algorithm targeted at lowering their rankings in Google.
Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land first covered this, quoting Matt's statement during his presentation.
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 don't want low quality experience merchants to be ranking in the search results.
Google Goes After Low Quality Merchants
Clearly, Matt is telling low quality merchants to be prepared for a possible downgrade in ranking. This may lead to a huge drop in traffic, sales and revenue for these online merchants.
This shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Back in late 2010 Google took action against really sleazy merchants that specifically provided "extremely poor user experience." Since then, not much has been done there and only a tiny fraction of merchants were impacted.
Matt Cutts Pre-Announces Second Major Algorithm: Penguin
In 2012, Matt did a similar announcement, where he pre-announced what we know today as the Google Penguin algorithm. Back then, Matt called it the over optimization penalty and it was announced at SXSW.
For some reason, it took a while for anyone to make a big deal of this announcement. Danny Sullivan wouldn't let that happen this time and he wrote about it as soon as Matt announced it.
When exactly will this Google Merchant Quality algorithm be released? Probably in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2013. Trust me, when it does - we will be on top of it.
Forum discussion at Google+.