Sometime around 28 April 2010 t0 3rd May 2010, many webmasters noticed an unusual change in the SERPs. This has been named the Google Mayday Update. The ranking algorithm was changed to make search more relevant as always. But what was this update all about? This change is most noticeable for long tail keywords rankings. Many large sites have seen a drop in traffic because they were no longer ranking for the long tail keywords (or have been dropped several places in the SERPs) and this has consequently plumetted their traffic.
Before the Google Maydate Update, a website was able to rank for long tail keywords based on domain authority. So if you had a website about finance with a high PR homepage, domain trust and good rankings for your primary keywords, then you would be able to get long tail traffic easily (eg rank for best car insurance for young drivers) if one of your finance articles mentioned a few of the long tail keywords being searched for. This was true even if your article was placed quite far from the homepage (many clicks to get to it) and also if there were few or none links pointing to it.
Solution for the Mayday update
Many ecommerce websites use generic description of products from manufacturers and as you can guess, this give rise to duplication. Now the problem is that as a customer who wants to by a particular product, you don’t want to click on each of the results on google when you have done a search and end up seeing the same description and everything for a product. You want to see something unique, something that’s going to help you in your decision making process. This is why google has started to filter out similar pages with the Mayday Update. This is supposed to help with user experience and bring more relevance to searches.
Your first step if you have been hit by the Mayday Update is to look at the pages on your site and analyse them. If you have the same content that’s practically on everyone else’s site, then you have a problem. You need unique and original content for your site but that might be hard if you have thousands of pages. User generated content is a way to add uniqueness to your product pages. You can give users the facility to review the products on your website. Don’t just show the good reviews and filter out the bad ones though! There needs to be a balance of reviews, both good and bad, otherwise people are going to find it unnatural and you’ll eventually lose potential customers (more on that some other time).
The other thing you should do is create more links to the inner pages of your site. Many people like getting links to their homepage. That’s good if you want your homepage to rank but if your other pages are buried deep down in your site, like requiring 5 clicks to get to it, well then chances are google will not index it but if it does, it may not rank it well. The closer to the homepage the better but if you can’t do that, then you need external links to point to these deep pages. This will show to Google that your page contains worthy content.
What many people fail to realise is that you do not need to stay ahead of Google to ensure long term ranking. Google’s aim is to provide the most relevant and accurate results for a given search query. If you align Google’s aim with your website, you’ve already secured your website’s future. So instead of changing your website everytime Google makes an algorithm change, you just need to focus on creating a better user experience for your visitors and delivering better content/services to help them out.