The search engine and webmaster fora are alight with news of negative ranking changes and hence lost revenue for a considerable number of sites following the so-called Mayday Update. Matt Cutts has posted a video on the update.
There are several points to make about this update. Firstly, no company should be building a business plan predicated on search engine optimisation alone. None of us can control the changes that Google makes, and in an average year Google makes around 400 changes to its algorithms. Internet marketing needs to focus on bringing people to your website by a wide variety of techniques and mechanisms, not just relying on search engine clicks alone. Think beyond the search engines!
Secondly, the Mayday update appears to have been targeted at levelling the playing field for small businesses, particularly where quality content and long tail terms are concerned. So, long tail search terms (ie 4 or more words) which are on quality, relevant pages can yield great results for smaller companies who have focused on developing niche content.
These higher results would appear to be page specific rather than relying on the algorithmic score for your whole site. Therefore, if one particular page of your site ranks highly on a specific long tail term, it will be valued by Google without as much weight being applied as previously to the ranking score of your whole website.
Thirdly, this appears to be a drive by Google to eliminate another source of search engine spamming which is aggressive link building strategies to poor quality pages, particularly those for products where the details have been copied mercilessly from, for instance, a manufacturer’s database. Google wants to distinguish between that type of page and a page where unique and valuable content has been added in ranking sites for long tail terms.
The most cited example of this type of page at the moment is Amazon where the ability for a customer to add a review means each product page is unique. A combination of external and internal links help to drive traffic to other relevant products or information, and assist in developing a cohesive linking strategy that suits Google’s algorithm as well as users.
Whilst Amazon can hardly be considered to be a small enterprise, the processes used by Amazon should be considered best practice and can therefore be adopted by SMEs to yield higher results under the Mayday update. Unique and quality content should always be a goal for any website, and this Mayday update has reinforced the value of creating such content with a view to capturing long tail traffic.