Google Mayday Updates Impact Long-Tail Search

If you’ve noticed any change in your rankings over the last few days or weeks you may be feeling the sting of Google’s recent changes to their ranking algorithm.  These have been confirmed by Google’s Matt Cutts and he indicates that it is a ranking factors change, versus crawling or indexing methods. The change was designed to increase the quality rankings for long-tail searches that target more specific search terms like “three-legged German shepherd dog training” rather than just “dog training”.

Who Is Affected?

If your site is a bulky e-commerce product site with many static, boilerplate-content product pages, you may see a loss in rankings for these pages since these changes were rolled out this month.

It’s been clear for awhile now that organizing sites just to please the Google gods is not a great long-term way to run your site, as you are the mercy of SE changes (not just Google’s) These changes are becoming more frequent each month. Google made somewhere between 350-500 changes to it’s search algorithms last year, so just keeping up with this alone would be at best, a nightmare.

A Better Overall Strategy?

Search Engine Land author Vanessa Fox points out that Amazon.com has done a good job of enhancing static product data with useful, user-generated content like user reviews. It also has leveraged its own strength by doing lots of internal site linking and also by encouraging strong external back links with widgets for use on other sites. All are strategies that still ranking well in Google’s eyes.  If it has value to a user, it is likely a positive change.  If it’s just cut and paste or database drive, probably less so.

Additionally, social media is still doing well for many of these sites to get in front of potential customer eyes and remain in focus.

In a word, don’t rely on Google to get your customer traffic because they aren’t going to remain static for long.

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