A hot topic of late in the SEO forums centers on what's been dubbed Google's "Mayday" update...we explained in our blog previously that many site owners were experiencing dramatic drops in their long-tail keyword (phrases over 3 words) rankings. Now Google has confirmed the "Mayday" update with Matt Cutts saying at Google I/O that "this is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries. It went through vigorous testing and isn't going to be rolled back."

Each year, Google changes its algorithm anywhere from 350 to 500 times (2009) which is why many SEO companies recommend you not get too focused on specific ranking factors, as this puts you at the mercy of these types of tweaks.

Every so often though, Google makes a big enough change in its algorithm that it demands attention.

In regard to the Mayday change, Vanessa Fox at Search Engine Land reported Cutts's comments on the specifics of the change. He stated that it was a rankings change, not a crawling or indexing one. This seems to imply that sites seeing less traffic are still getting their pages indexed but are not ranking as high as they were before. Google's changes seem to only be affecting "long-tail" traffic stemming from the longer search terms that relatively few people enter. (But when you add up the effect of those searches for a given site, it could mean a lot, especially since long-tail searches may convert at a higher rate.)

The algorithm change also seems to be affecting very large sites with "item" pages, like an ecommerce site. These pages generally don't have many links to them and are buried deep within a site. They also may not have substantial amounts of unique content on them.

These observations and admissions regarding the Mayday update confirm one thing for sure - it's certainly beneficial to create unique product descriptions for items you sell on your site if you're an ecommerce provider. Simply using a manufacturer's generic description could be causing you to lose traffic to your product pages. And whether or not you're selling products, make sure that your content is first relevant and then comprehensively addresses the search terms you're expecting to rank for--a good idea whether or not you've been impacted by Google's Mayday Update!

May 31, 2010

Stone Reuning is president and founder of SEO Advantage, Inc., an online marketing firm and website optimization company that helps businesses turn their websites into powerful lead and revenue generation tools.

Beginning with a focus on search engine optimization in 1999, SEO Advantage now brings a full multi-disciplinary approach to each client website. Clients enjoy dominance on Google, Yahoo and Bing through a suite of unique pay-for-performance search engine optimization and online marketing services. Experts in SEO, social media optimization, online reputation management, and website conversions work hand-in-hand with small business owners and client marketing departments providing complete copywriting and creative web design support.

You'll find SEO Advantage referenced in books such as Writing Web-Based Advertising Copy to Get the Sale and the BusinessWeek bestseller The New Rules of Marketing & PR, as well as popular ebooks like The Small Business Blogging Blueprint.


Interesting read. This area is so complex, you never know how to make sure that you are doing the right thing by the Google Engines.

yeah one of my site dropped to 2nd page from being on 3rd place in serp for a very competitive keyword. I have done all the analysis that I could think of .. but nothing makes sense ...

I am just hoping its just normal google dance , but now that I have read your post .. I hope this is not permenant.

Thanks for the update. It will be interesting to see how this affects website rankings.

Wow this update is gonna make it feel to everyones who are gonna rank down .

Great info , i never thought this was gonna happen is part of the new cafeine google ... is it ?

Great Post! This helps me some, but I am just soooo new to this that everything is honestly confusing-I nit pick every single thing before I do it! This on top of everything-I have decided to make sure I maintain KW's that are just 3 words or smaller.

Really what I want to do is just build and not concentrate on anything else at least so I can accomplish something!

I read your article and my world is upside down. I haven't been directly affected yet, but I am not sure what to do. I just finished a 3 months seo campaign and hope it was not wasted time and money.

Back to basics then.


Was there a pr update at the same time?

it's a very strange algoritm. IMO it meesed things more, as the long tail searches I was ranking for in top 3 positions before, now pushes as results web domains that match keywords combination and have one page only with few content only... I don't see this in any way as an improvement, but rather push me to register domains, and instead of having one nice site with lot of related content, have many sites with one page only

So... can we get a little more discussion going about this? I've seen many of my sites drop like everyone else... what does the future hold? Does anyone have a clue? Will they come back up? Will 3 and 4 word keywords be forever sandboxed?


I know that Google is just starving for unique content. It is a shame that e commerce sites are being punished. I know that sites like Amazon haven't been punished. If I do a search for a product, an Amazon listing is usually the first thing that pops up. Of course, I do realize that Amazon is a very popular site.

I know Google thinks that content is king. However, I sometimes don't want to read about why I should buy Product X (especially if I already know about the product), I just want to buy Product X. To me a bunch of content sometimes gets in the way. Sometimes I will even click out of the site if there is too much content ( I am just looking for the "buy" button).

I have noticed a considerable drop in results for some of our 3 word keyphrases as well as longer tail. We have also been able to resolve problems on ecommerce sites for clients with a bit of restructuring to rely less on long tail.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.

Search Engine Guide > Stone Reuning > Mayday Update Confirmed by Google