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:

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.