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!
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.
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