Google May Day Update Confirmed, Our Fourth Post

May 28, 2010 • 8:29 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

This will be our fourth post on the Google May Day update. We first reported it on May 3rd then again on May 14th and then most recently May 25th and today is our last post on it in May 2010.

Vanessa Fox did the leg work to get Google to provide details on this update and posted her findings at Search Engine Land. In short, Google confirmed the update twice, once at the Google I/O, as we said and once again to us at Search Engine Land.

Matt Cutts of Google said at Google I/O and confirmed in an email to us that he did say this:

This is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries. It went through vigorous testing and isn’t going to be rolled back.

In a follow up with Google's team, Google said this was a change to the rankings algorithm and not a change to the indexing or crawling areas.

This does impact long-tail keywords, as covered almost a month ago. It is also Google is confident and said they won't roll back. Vanessa's expert opinion was:

This change seems to have primarily impacted very large sites with “item” pages that don’t have many individual links into them, might be several clicks from the home page, and may not have substantial unique and value-added content on them. For instance, ecommerce sites often have this structure. The individual product pages are unlikely to attract external links and the majority of the content may be imported from a manufacturer database. Of course, as with any change that results in a traffic hit for some sites, other sites experience the opposite. Based on Matt’s comment at Google I/O, the pages that are now ranking well for these long tail queries are from “higher quality” sites (or perhaps are “higher quality” pages).

My complete speculation is that perhaps the relevance algorithms have been tweaked a bit. Before, pages that didn’t have high quality signals might still rank well if they had high relevance signals. And perhaps now, those high relevance signals don’t have as much weight in ranking if the page doesn’t have the right quality signals.

The folks over at WebmasterWorld are now picking apart this new evidence and trying to isolate which niches these might impact specifically and what can be done to reverse the impact.

I should note that when analyzing this, make sure your traffic didn't decline due to the redesign. We ran a poll and 43% said traffic dropped due specifically to the redesign at Google and not MayDay.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Sphinn.

Update: Matt Cutts of Google posted a video on this topic, watch the May Day Video on our blog.

Previous story: Google Not Showing Number Of Results & Return Time



05/28/2010 03:12 pm

Yet again it is the small guys and that suffer. SEO's over here in the UK find it funny how a site like the BBC of which we all know sell backward links can get away with it. Yes it is a great site but selling backward links is against the Google guidelines and should in theory result in at least a reduction of Page Rank as what has happened to Seroundtable. Google likes taking on the minnows but is rather running scared when it comes to the big boys. This is such a shame as all everybody wants is consistency and Google would become even more popular and profitable if it really stood firm on its values and didn't just penalise the small to mid range of businesses. What has been even more frustrating is the lack of communication on the "May Day" subject. I certainly would have expected a lot more from a major organisation. It has taken until the 28th for the confirmation - do they really have that much disregard for the webmasters out there?


05/28/2010 03:45 pm

i have see a drop in traffic for long tail keywords and on the other had an increase for normal content pages. There is some impact in the indexing also. Long tails keywords are not getting indexed as fast as they use to, i think need to pass some extra link juice to them.

Michael Martinez

05/28/2010 05:45 pm

Chris John, bot-at-large, testing new blog comment spam techniques....a sure sign of things to come as people ramp up their link building technologies to offset Google's algorithmic changes.


05/29/2010 02:54 am

May Day has most definitely affected my site but it's been hard to figure out exactly why and what to do about it. Adsense earnings down for entire month of May. Now, I'm wishing I had paid more attention to long-tailed keywords. They just sort of happened organically on a lot of my pages and I didn't really track them as well as I should have. Now, apparently, some of them have stopped coming up in searches.


05/30/2010 06:55 pm

I've been getting a bit more traffic on my personal site, but on another site (a big one with PR 7) where I'm a feature writer, it's like watching the toilet slowly flush. All the writers there have similar complaints...


06/08/2010 10:50 am

My site went down from 400 Visitors a day to 30 something and the further trnd is not looking good as well. Its kind of strange as I worte most of the articles myself and some were from RSS but are very revelent and useful. Today, all i see for the keyword terms are BIG BRANDS. and BIG BRANDS only. I feel like a (rediwala) Makeshift shop in a big shopping mall owned by google and telling me to either go out of the mall or help any big brand to thrive. The only lesson i learnt is only google based business can fall anytime.

No Name

10/26/2010 12:24 pm

I still feel like I'm missing the true meaning of the lingo here. When you say high quality versus high relevancy -- how do you define quality? PageRank?

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