Matt Cutts announces significant Google updates

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Google Penguin update expected in coming days

Matt Cutts, head of search spam at Google, has announced that updates are on the way which will have a significant impact on SEO.

An update to the Google Penguin algorithm is predicted to take place before the 18 March, the first Penguin update since October 2012. Speaking at the Search Marketing Expo Conference (SMX), Cutts called the update "very significant" and stated his belief that it would be one of the most widely discussed changes to Google this year.

The Google representative also hinted that a Panda update was on the horizon, a change which is also expected to be highly significant. It has been over a year since the latest Panda update in January 2012, which is one of the longest ever periods of time between updates of the algorithm.

While the full extent of the updates remains to be seen, it is believed that the SEO impact will be significant.

Further Google updates coming soon

Another potentially significant change hinted at by Cutts was reduced rankings for poor quality merchants. He commented: "We have a potential launch later this year looking at the quality of merchants. We don't want low quality merchants to be ranking." While details of these merchant changes remain limited, it is believed that customer experience, reviews and payment safety will be the most important considerations.

Concluding his talk, Matt Cutts confirmed that Google had punished a link network in recent weeks, and will target others over the course of the year. He also confirmed that an update to be released in the next two weeks would target another large link network, the identity of which is currently unknown.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword commented: "It has been some time since the last major changes were made by Google, which hinted that an update of this size could well be forthcoming. While the scale of the SEO impact and what will be targeted cannot be predicted until the updated algorithms are released, SEO is a constantly changing industry which is fully prepared to face these forthcoming changes to the system used by Google."