Allan Pollett

Toronto SEO Consultant

google may day update

Between April 28 and May 3rd of2010, Google performed a major algorithm change. This update dubbed the May day update by SEOs because of its happened near May 1st. But for many commercial site owners it was a very different type of May day more similar to that of a sinking ship than to date in time. The Mayday update according to Google representative Matt Cutts, this is an “algorithmic change and it does impact long tail searches more than head searches”.  To see his video comment on May day visit the Youtube link:
The sites owners that were negatively affected saw a loss in long tail traffic.

What are head searches verses long tail searches?
The term long tail was popularized by Wire Magazine editor Chris Anderson. Long tail searches are searches for usually 5-6 words that represent the less popularly searched terms (example of a long tail search is “real estate agent in Toronto”).. Head searches are popular searches usually 1-4 word searches (example of a long tail search is “Toronto real estate”).

What are key changes in Google’s May Day update?
Realize that this update is not temporary. May Day is a permanent change that has now been fully released. It is a ranking algorithmic change and is completely independent of the caffeine update. This change is not the result of Google manually selecting some sites to be flagged. With all of this said Google’s May Day update affects long tail searches. It gives a ranking boost to pages that were rich in content but might be several levels deep within a site or that lack many links pointing to them. Basically if you look at search as having two major factors, relevancy and links, it gives more weight to relevancy when dealing with long tail terms. This means sites which used to rank for a long tail search term on a minimum content product page will now rank much worse. Where are a blog post on the topic that was buried within a site or had only a few links will suddenly rank much better.

What is the impact of Google’s May Day update?
Sites that depended on their thousands of product pages for receiving visitors for long term searches will find their traffic being affected negatively. This could help Google to get more PPC revenue from commercial sites. Blog sites and informational sites will generally rank better for long tail searches than before. This also could be a push by Google not only to increase their search relevance but to cater to social content. Therefore, expect Google not only to be more relevant but to be fresher in terms of the content it displays. This will be a big boost for social media sites especially blogs.

How to optimize for Google May Day?
If you have a commercial site, which lacks content on its product pages, this update will negatively impact you. However, here are a few simple strategies to get your long-tail traffic back:

  1. add customer reviews
  2. add long descriptions on product pages
  3. pick products and write a showcase articles about them

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Content is king again with Google which is a overall a good thing, unless you are a business counting on this traffic for customers. If you need help resolving ranking loss due to the May Day update, please feel free to contact me at or by phone at 905-417-9470.

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