Something Is Up (Or Down) With Google's Search Algorithm

May 25, 2010 - 9:11 am 7 by
Filed Under Google Updates

It has been a really long time since covering SEO in the forums where I have seen so much stress and discussion amongst webmasters and SEOs about a possible change in the Google algorithm. We wrote about the Google May Day update twice, people suggesting this is a self improving algorithm that impacts the mid-long-tail keywords.

But the discussion continues to go on at WebmasterWorld, already on it's 3rd thread on this single topic this month. That is huge in terms of one topic of discussion at WebmasterWorld. Plus, I see random short threads at various other forums with SEOs and webmasters complaining about rank changes this month at Google.

Of course, the issue with WebmasterWorld is that they don't allow examples.

In any event, some are still wondering if this is Google Caffeine related, even though Caffeine is not an algorithm update, but rather an index structure update. Anyway, it is really hard to tell.

But if you noticed, 43% said traffic is down since the launch of the new design earlier this month. Some say it is related to the design and some say it is related to May Day. The distinction is, are your rankings the same and traffic down or is it both? If it is both, then call it May Day if it is just traffic, it is design related. If it is both, you want to check out the links above and the WebmasterWorldthread.

There is a blog said Matt Cutts of Google did mention the May Day update but didn't provide any details. The blog writes Matt as saying, "Mayday is an algorithmic change in Google (should find out more about this)." The blogger added in the comments, "Matt did not provide any details or specifics on Mayday. It was brought up during the Q & A part of the session and Matt said it had to do with changes to the algorithm to make it more accurate. I believe he said most sites would not be affected, but I'll have to review the audio I recorded."

I cannot find a video of this nor has Matt made any more comments on May Day.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: After this post, a bunch of us at Search Engine Land decided to get Google on the record on the May Day update. We got them to confirm this is a change to the ranking algorithm and not a change to indexing or crawling. Vanessa Fox wrote it up and goes into more detail there. Here is a quote:

Last week at Google I/O, I was on a panel with Googler Matt Cutts who said, when asked during Q&A, ”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.”

I asked Google for more specifics and they told me that it was a rankings change, not a crawling or indexing change, which seems to imply that sites getting less traffic still have their pages indexed, but some of those pages are no longer ranking as highly as before. Based on Matt’s comment, this change impacts “long tail” traffic, which generally is from longer queries that few people search for individually, but in aggregate can provide a large percentage of traffic.

Update 2: Matt Cutts of Google posted a video on this topic, watch the May Day Video on our blog.


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