Mayday! Mayday! Google Changes Impact Long Tail Search
Google is always very busy making changes to its search ranking methodology and the mythical algorithm that everyone chases. I say mythical only because for years it has been treated as if it were something that could be hunted, captured, contained, analyzed and then completely understood. That’s the marketing and sales talk about this beast. Reality is much different.
Reality is so much different that people who know more than most, like former Googler Vanessa Fox, often tell folks to not get their knickers in a twist about every adjustment in the Google search ‘ecosystem’. Last year alone there were anywhere from 350-550 changes made so there is no way to A) know all of these B) Implement all of these and C) Not go crazy tracking all of these.
So when Fox penned an article over at SearchEngineLand telling us about what has been deemed the “Mayday” update it gets some attention. Why? Because this one may really impact just how SEO’s optimize for long tail queries from this point on.
……. sometimes a Google algorithm change is substantial enough that even those who don’t spend a lot of time focusing on the algorithms notice it. That seems to be the case with what those discussing it at Webmaster World have named “Mayday”. Last week at Google I/O, I was on a panel with Googler Matt Cutts who said, when asked during Q&A, ”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.”
Sites likely to be most effective are larger sites that have a significant number if interior pages that are under optimized either through content, links directly to the pages and a combination of various other factors. Many people have seen significant impact on rankings and, more importantly, traffic as a result of this change. Fox offers the following advice for those wondering how to address this situation.
What’s a site owner to do? It can be difficult to create compelling content and attract links to these types of pages. My best suggestion to those who have been hit by this is to isolate a set of queries for which the site now is getting less traffic and check out the search results to see what pages are ranking instead. What qualities do they have that make them seen as valuable? For instance, I have no way of knowing how amazon.com has faired during this update, but they’ve done a fairly good job of making individual item pages with duplicated content from manufacturer’s databases unique and compelling by the addition of content like of user reviews. They have set up a fairly robust internal linking (and anchor text) structure with things like recommended items and lists. And they attract external links with features such as the my favorites widget.
As with any major change that occurs to the ‘secret sauce’ of ranking with Google, it would be wise to get educated on just what impact has been seen as a result of these changes that are apparently here to stay. As with everything there are two sides to every coin and the flip side of this one should be exciting for smaller players looking for an edge. The long tail has always been a target of any good SEO campaign especially by the smaller players. Now there’s a chance to make even further inroads against the big boys. Study up!
Have you seen this change impact your site’s performance in Google? Let us know your experience.