Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Google’s Mayday Update and What to Do About It


Today, Matt Cutts posted a new Google Webmaster Video addressing (finally!) the issues surrounding the many changes in long tail search engine results. Here is the video:

YouTube Preview Image

To recap, the Mayday update (as most are calling it) was a purposeful and permanent shift in how Google determines which sites should be ranked under long tail searches (i.e. short tail = “victoria bc hotel“, and long tail = “victoria bc pet friendly hotel“). According to Matt, the changes are not based on specific offending websites but a quality enhancement to the entire Google algorithm with the most affect being on long tail rankings.

Mayday distress shown in flags

What does this mean for you?
If you noticed a drop long tail search traffic then it is likely you need to do some work to get the word out about your content so you can gain more links from other relevant sites or articles. It seems that the Google engineers that manage the algorithm found many long tail results that did not highlight the results they considered to be of the highest quality. So, try looking at the sites/pages that usurped your rankings and look for a common thread. High quality content is what Matt and his team hopes you will find in the new rankings but it is more likely the pages that usurped your rankings merely have a few more links from sites that have higher credibility with Google; and hopefully you can obtain your own quality links to offset your competitors and set your rankings right.

If you want to know more about why your competitors are performing better in search results you may also want to consider the more professional option of competitor analysis.

Got questions? Please send me your inquiry or listen to our next show of SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.FM on Monday (June 7th, 2010) when I and my co-host, John Carcutt, will discuss this update and address any new information that has come to light.

Oh and for those who (like I, are not math-buffs) were wondering about Matt’s brainy word of the day “orthogonal”, here is the definition as provided by

In geometry, orthogonal means “involving right angles” (from Greek ortho, meaning right, and gon meaning angled). The term has been extended to general use, meaning the characteristic of being independent (relative to something else). It also can mean: non-redundant, non-overlapping, or irrelevant. In computer terminology, something – such as a programming language or a data object – is orthogonal if it can be used without consideration as to how its use will affect something else.

5 Responses to “Google’s Mayday Update and What to Do About It”

  1. John

    Yeah, with June 2nd I saw the traffic on my sites to go down 95% or completely dropped from Google. Panicked? yes.. as this the bread for many small to medium webmasters. It’s an economic Deja Vu, where large corporations push out of the market all smaller middle men.

    Checked all keywords I was ranking for before – now the top ranking sites are indeed with higher authority, hardly having the keywords that were searched, and most important – they don’t offer the info users were looking for. An improvement from Google? I doubt it as long tail searches have their own market, a market where people are looking for very specific things and people meeting their needs meet.

    Result: users will just hit “Back: button when they reach the high authority sites but can’t find what they were looking >> and this is a way to generate more Google searches, serve more adds and…

    Bottom line – Google gives, Google takes

  2. Akiko Eskelsen

    Thats great stuff you have written up on this blog. Have been hunting for this everywhere. Good work

  3. Ross Dunn

    Great post John, thanks for your insight. I agree Google often makes mistakes in a wide variety of searches when a new algo change comes into play. I can only hope that Matt Cutt’s and his team continue to do their job well and correct such mistakes. Note: if you want to post some samples of the searches where such content is of low integrity then please email me (you can use our contact form to reach me: ) and I will devote a whole post to your findings if they are as bad as they sound. Thanks again!

  4. online reputation management

    Thanks for the update. Sometimes changes in the algorithm can really mix up the SERPs.

  5. Paula - Shoelaces

    Thanks for the explanation.

    I as in Victoria, BC about 10 years ago. What a beautiful little town you live in.

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