Online Marketing Blog

View From The Other Side Of The May Day Update

There has been a lot of chatter, complaints and the inevitable “let’s start a class action lawsuit against Google” over the past few weeks in relation to an algorithm change dubbed the “MayDay Update”. I wont go into much detail here about all of the complaints or absurd theories, but you can read the main source of this over on the WMW thread here.

Last week Vanessa Fox wrote an article on these updates and speculated as to what happened. While most dismissed her speculations, I believe she was right on the money. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Vanessa (Who’s an absolute sweetheart in real life as well as a genius) might even have known something that the rest of those on WMW didn’t and she was really REALLY doing her best to give a “please read between the lines” post. For that she was shunned. Their loss.

Note* As I do with all posts, I left this one in drafts to sleep on it. It just so happens that Matt posted a video with a little more information. It’s brief and you can watch it below. Please note that all content on this post was produced before this video was released.

Get the Flash Player to see this Google AdWords tutorial about building your keyword list.

WHAT’S HAPPENING?:

One poster on the thread mentioned:

“Everyone here is complaining about loss of traffic and nobody is gaining traffic, the lost traffic has to be going somewhere

Let me tell you that we, our clients and our network of websites, are on the “other side”. i.e, sites like ours and our clients took that traffic.

We have concrete Google Analytics evidence that shows 30-60% increases in traffic to some of our and our clients sites just before and after May. It is important to note that these sites are all eCommerce and forum sites that had a steady flow of long tail traffic and now have a much greater share of this traffic. All this traffic increase is from Google search term referrals with a word length of 4 or over. I will follow this up as usual in another post with data as soon as we can anonymize  it and get permission.

So what do we do different to our competitors who we’ve now drastically overtaken in the serps?

Here at Redfly, we’ve almost always started a PPC campaign and all that goes with that long before even attempting to look at the SEO side of things. Those of you who deal almost exclusively with AdWords will know what I’m talking about here. Google has always taken a hard line towards ensuring quality on it’s network. They have penalized, suspended and even banned advertisers who pay a significant amount of money in order to keep their paid search results top notch. AdWords advertisers are constantly adapting to changes in Google policy and I for one have noticed that what works in AdWords is usually, eventually included in some form in the organic search algorithm. Site speed, relevancy, CTR (Don’t tell me CTR in SERPs is not or will not be  a ranking factor now that Google has released this data in WMT).

The MayDay update is something that a lot of AdWords experts knew was coming a long time ago. What really made me laugh is that some people genuinely think that Google has made a mistake and that things are broken and it will eventually roll back. If anything, it’s only rolling out. It’s going to get worse for you.

As an aside, this reminds me of a book I once thought was an incredible condescending read after being recommended to me by Rand Fishkin called “Who Moved My Cheese”. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d recommend this book or even make reference to it but I have to say, it really hit the nail on the head with this one. To all of you in denial, I’d recommend reading this book (It’s a short book, I completed it in under 15 mins). It’s an almost child like story about change, complacency and the dangers/opportunities of each. It’s available on Amazon for $3, but if anyone wants my copy, just let me know in the comments.

So, how come we’re sucking up all your “hard earned” traffic? Well, from Vanessa’s post and from the point of an AdWords advertiser/manager, it’s pretty obvious. The majority of those complaining have relied too much on domain authority and internal linking. IN MY OPINION, rather than site authority, being used by most of you as the main egg in your basket, carrying all the weight, Google is now seeing individual documents as their own entities a lot more.

Basic SEO principles still stand true here. Think about it. A document on a less authoritative site might be more valuable and more useful to the Google user than a page with less useful information pushed to the top of the SERPs by the authority of the root domain.Only 4 months ago everybody was complaining that big brands had the advantage. Google has done SEOs and small businesses a huge favor here and leveled the playing field for those of us who produce valuable, relevant content. Content that produces links. In every example of sites that I have seen “lose their rankings” those pages were overtaken by pages on domains with not much authority, but with a lot more backlinks to those individual pages. A lot of those links may be spammy, but they’re still backlinks.

OK, so let’s break it down.

E-COMMERCE SITES:

All our eCommerce sites and client eCommerce sites have never taken the “easy route” to market.  We have made sure of that because this is essential as an AdWords advertiser and the majority of AdWords policies eventually become reality for SEOs. Advertising a page with just a manufacturer boilerplate description and a buy now button wouldn’t survive a day in an AdWords auction. All our eCommerce sites/clients have put in the effort in creating unique descriptions, reviews, videos, UGC reviews (good and bad) and used incentives to get links to these product pages. As Vanessa mentioned, look at what Amazon does!  Google mentioned before (no source at present) that a lot of user feedback focused on the excessive amount of almost identical shopping results in the search engines. Why do you think they introduced the “less shopping results” feature in the sidebar? You need to build links, build quality and interesting product pages and get creative. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

Every single one of our eCommerce sites have seen an increase in traffic since May despite the annual seasonal downturn.

FORUM SITES:

All of our forum sites sites and client forum sites have noticed a significant boost in long tail traffic too. This is because we insist on building links to and promoting every single thread created (that’s of any value of course). This has taken the form of incentivsing users and site owners to blog about and reference thread titles to bring inlinks, traffic and contributors to the forum thread which in turn encourages others to do the same. Self reinforcing. Write customized versions or synopsis versions of long forum threads, syndicate them, guest blog about the opinions expressed in a forum thread, get links from national newspapers on topics in your forum to build links to those threads/individual pages. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

Every single one of our forums have seen an increase in long tail traffic since encouraging linking and externally referencing valuable threads.

Handy tip. To get you started, tweetmeme and topsy widgets on each page provide a starting point, a frequently crawled dofollow link from their main site when you use their widgets which also adds to the user experience. There are countless ways to build links to pages as long as you make them link worthy. Now the “secret” is out, I don’t expect this one to last long.

SOME QUESTIONS SEEN ON THE WMW THREAD:

Some “questions” I’ve seen on the WMW thread that I would like to address:

Q:”How can I get my eCommerce item page to rank where it once was, all I have is the manufacturer description, who’ll link to that?”

A: I think I’ve addressed that already. I hate to (really, I do) sound like a Google fan boy but put yourself in the users shoes. Do you really want a list of generic eCommerce site results in the search results for a product? Do you want to shift through them all, offering the exact same product at the exact same price, each offering only a unique-ish design and then pick which one you want? Or do you want Google to do what it’s good at and use it’s algorithm to show the top results by using it’s advanced (largely) link based algorithm? Isn’t this what you started your SEO career on? Building links to quality content? Just so happens that now Google is working just as designed and giving more weight to those pages with more links. If anything this is a rollback from the “brand update” a while back. If you’re good at what you do and have not gotten complacent (which I dare say is now rampant among “professional SEOs” who have inherited authority sites) you should be able to build a better links than your new competitors for you and your clients to these pages. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

Q: “Really spammy sites are appearing above mine, can’t Google see this?”

A: No. They don’t. Google sees more links, which you as an SEO should know (in general) is a vote of confidence for this page. The question now is two fold: 1) Why does this site have more links than you? 2) What can you do to get more/more valuable links to YOUR page than your spammy competitor? This should be easy for you. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

IN CONCLUSION:

Your cheese has  moved. Go find it again or go find more. It’s not coming back. Matt says so in his video.

Oh, and trust me, if you spent as much time on the AdWords help forum as I do, you’d realize, like all the other posters and top contributors on the forum that no amount of bitching, moaning, law suit threats, class actions, begging or bribing will get Google to roll this back. Google doesn’t care that it has “wiped out entire businesses” with this algo update. Google has literally wiped out billion dollar VC funded companies overnight on AdWords without even an explanation when they introduced quality score. Let this be a lesson that AdWords advertisers have learned countless times over the past 3 years, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If I may dust off an old chestnut, build your site as if Google didn’t exist. Then, when you’ve exhausted every possibility of getting traffic to every page on your site that doesn’t require a search engine, focus on Google.

“Familiarity tends to breed complacency” – Christopher Jones

“When a great team loses through complacency, it will constantly search for new and more intricate explanations to explain away defeat.” – Pat Riley

*I realize that this may upset a lot of the SEO industry folks but I believe that it is pretty obvious what has happened considering the timing and data that we have. It is very rare I write a post like this but I was astonished at some of the unbelievably outlandish theories presented as explanations for the update. I welcome any rebuttals, a few “you have no idea what you’re talking about”s and and more than a few anecdotal proofs that I’m wrong in the comments below.


  1. avatar
    Lar Veale Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Dave,

    great post. Reading between the lines, and on the lines themselves, “build your site as if Google didn’t exist” is part of what you’re saying…”design for people first and develop a compelling experience and the reward will be a higher Google ranking”?

    Lar

    Reply

  2. avatar
    Rob Carpenter Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Great post Dave,

    No doubt you have a lot of even happier clients now and I’m not surprised.
    I’ve followed you for quite a while now and your comprehensive approach across SEO campaigns will always win out over opportunistic domain grabbing with poorly planned/promoted content.

    Engaging, authoritative and useful information combined with innovative link building should always win out eventually over domain authority, internal linking and onsite SEO.

    The only complaint I would have is you don’t blog enough :)

    Rob

    Reply

  3. avatar
    Ciaran Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve not read a lot of SEO posts recently, in fact I’ve lost touch with a lot of what’s going on in the industry. But even without knowing the ins & outs of the update, what you’ve said just rings so, so true. Good work Dave.

    Reply

  4. avatar
    Kevin Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I’m seeing the same thing. Every single site that I work on has made significant gains in organic traffic since this update. Anywhere from 15-30% depending on the site.

    I hate to be confrontational, but nearly every site I’ve been shown that saw a big drop in traffic was a piece of crap site to begin with.

    Reply

  5. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    @Lar, thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. If anyone knows what I’m trying to get at here, it’s you.

    @Rob, Not only that, but I think a lot of webmasters and SEOs have grown accustomed to replying on internal linking and general domain authority. I think this change is shifting away from giving all the power to the big guys who’s internal page content may not be as good as smaller sites with less domain authority but much better individual pages related to the search term.

    @Ciaran, out of touch? Come off it! You ARE “Mr. In The Thick Of It”. Too many junkets leaving you behind the curve? ;)

    @Kevin, thanks for that. I wouldn’t say ALL sites were “pieces of crap” but I think a lot of big brand sites, newspapers and the likes depended on the domain authority to rank their, sometimes sub standard, content that was hastily put together. I think this will hit the likes of demand media pretty hard and I think Aaron Wall’s almost obsession with this has been listened to. Thankfully.

    Reply

  6. avatar
    Todd Mintz Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    I’ve never seen any value of complaining about algo changes…nothing you can say will make a difference…deal with the change or suffer the consequences.

    Reply

  7. avatar
    Andy Symonds Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Great post Dave and the old adage of about not putting all your eggs in one basket is so true.

    I did that several years ago and through lazyiness (whilst travelling the World!) I took my eye off said golden goose site and it has never recovered :(

    Reply

  8. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Exactly Todd. I’ve seen it countless times in the AdWords support forum when one of their policies change. Except with AdWords, despite them being paying customers, they don’t get a Mat Cutts video answer.

    Reply

  9. avatar
    Adam Ramshaw Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Dave,

    I’m not full time SEO and hadn’t heard of the MayDay change. I thought I’d go back and look at our traffic which is mostly from long tail keywords. True to your comments our traffic is up 60% May over April with no real reason except this event.

    So I’m happy with the change.

    Reply

  10. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Adam, I’ll assume that you were building links to individual pages rather than using internal linking alone to “power your longtail”?

    Reply

  11. avatar
    Dennis Yu Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 1:04 am

    If anything, we’ve witnessed an increase in our client’s traffic– these are big brands as well as small businesses that have unique content. As for ecommerce sites that compete selling commodity products and have semi-duplicate content, I can’t speak to that.

    Reply

  12. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Hi Dennis,
    Thanks for stopping by. I think the unique content that you mentioned is part of the “puzzle”. The majority of complaints, that I saw in the thread at least were complaining about loss of long tail traffic to deep pages. Pages with no links, authority or original content.

    It’s basic common “SEO Sense” that each page should be treated as it’s own entity and not rely on the root domain’s authority.

    So in your case, like ours, those sites didn’t fall into the “piggybacking on the main domain’s authority”. It makes perfect sense.

    Maybe this post was premature and possibly pandering to the panic of webmasters and SEOs in that thread. By reading it, you would swear that it was the end of the world for small businesses. I see it as quite the opposite, a much greater chance for the “little guy” with the time and inclination to put in the effort to create a site full of the best possible content/pages (that get linked to).

    I’m thrilled at the comments so far on this post that we’re not the only ones not having problems and in fact, having a better time overall.

    Reply

  13. avatar
    Andrew Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Google stands by their action, they never bend. So what you say is true. Concede to what Google likes, do something about it. Sulking and bitching will never be able to do a thing.

    Reply

  14. avatar
    Olivier Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Great article Dave!

    Do you confirm that this update occurred late april / first may? I’m asking this question because I observed some big changes on the beginning of march that may be correlated (lack of unique content, lack of external backlinks).

    Reply

  15. avatar
    Faith Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    The change on Google algorithm was so sudden but we, online marketer, should always expect change in algorithm anytime. Remember, the only constant thing in this world is CHANGE. Thanks for this very informative post. :) Oh, by the way, I would like to have a copy of that book. Is that for free? :D

    Reply

  16. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    @Andrew, I couldn’t agree more. If you could see on the AdWords forum what things are like, ESPECIALLY considering they are paying for the service, you would see how Google doesn’t care about the impact that their changes have on anybodies bottom line, except their own. So far, that has been a good thing (not for everyone) and can be seen in their superior search results and massive market share.

    @Oliver, actually, in some cases, we noticed this starting to happen early March but the big change we saw happened on the last day of April and over that weekend. As for lack of unique content, lack of external backlinks, that’s exactly it. If you lacked both of those things on your internal/product pages and were relying entirely on the authority of your main domain, homepage or internal linking, you’re in trouble. And in my opinion, rightly so.

    @Faith, you can pick the book up for $2 here: http://amzn.to/btI0f6 however, if you want me to send it to you, drop me a mail. You could probably read it online. It’s VERY short. I wouldn’t call it recommended reading, but I used it to illustrate the “Hem and Haw” (Characters in the book) attitude on the WMW thread.

    Reply

  17. avatar
    John Pickering Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Dave – I’ve got one of the said poorly linked… equally bad… thin content many similiar product page ecommerce sites.

    The SEO guy who started working with me a couple of months ago wants me to rip down the many duplicated thin product pages and start again with a focused set of about 20 pages with rich unique descriptions on it.

    Then he wants me to develop it organically over the years to come with unique and useful product descriptions etc. These were some of the first pieces of advice he gave me, before the May Day update, so now I know he’s on the ball.

    Your great post and description has made me as a webmaster realise that I need to cut back the site/plant to its roots and start again. But with a genuine and user focused unique approach, as with everything in life, if its worth having then its not easy to get.
    Thanks for the extra push.
    John

    Reply

  18. avatar
    Random Lurker Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Thankyou Dave Davis – A brilliant article!
    Overall, I wonder how these traffic gains correlate to google’s adsense revenue?

    Reply

  19. avatar
    Thomas Schonenberger Says:
    June 3rd, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Dave

    Really great post. Your words are truly inspiring. I can just imagine that most of the people reading this post envy your take on building traffic and inlinks. You do make it sound so easy! The gem for me here is your quote “simply build your site as if Google didn’t exist. Then, when you’ve exhausted every possibility of getting traffic to every page on your site that doesn’t require a search engine, focus on Google.”

    Tom

    Reply

  20. avatar
    searchbrat Says:
    June 3rd, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Hey Dave

    Good to see we are in agreement http://www.searchbrat.com/google-sends-the-long-tail-screaming-for-may-day/ ( Posted on the same day as well ;) ) I obviously didn’t put it in such an elegant or informative manner and also, I like to throw in some wild theories.

    I segmented traffic head vs tail for lots of large sites I work on and nothing much went wrong. Organic is up.

    The problem is, if Google did say this was a Crap Hat update, everyone would be saying their traffic went up.

    It’s funny, last year we had Vince, fighting for the brands, now we have May-Day apparently favoring small businesses. Caffeine is still being rolled out, so anyone who feels this is the end, is kidding themselves. Caffeine will ensure they can process lots more user behavior metrics, so even if you can link your way to the top, a high bounce rate, will probably see you fall back down. Anyone who is paying attention to data in the top search queries can see how much the rankings more around already.

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:July 20, 2010 at 1:19 am

    Kieran,
    I completely agree. Matt Cutts’ video about caffeine actually reveals some pretty interesting information, especially the bit about being able to add more “meta data” onto each document. I firmly believe that behavior metrics will definitely come into play here. Especially bounce rate (not from analytics, but from the same way AdWords judges it as well as toolbar and chrome data).

    I think there’s a lot more to come.

  21. avatar
    richardbaxterseo Says:
    June 4th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    One of the best and most useful SEO blog posts I’ve read (and then re-read) for a while. Solid thinking mate – thank you.

    Reply

  22. avatar
    Mark Hansen Says:
    June 5th, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Just to reiterate what others are saying, fantastic article that hits the nail on the head!

    Reply

  23. avatar
    Blogin Marks Says:
    June 5th, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Dave,
    Nice post. I like for your article, i underline and bold of your write : “Everyone here is complaining about loss of traffic and nobody is gaining traffic, the lost traffic has to be going somewhere“.

    Reply

  24. avatar
    highpowerled Says:
    June 7th, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Unfornately my sites have received less 25% traffic.

    Reply

  25. avatar
    John Schwartz Says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 2:03 am

    This is probably the most level-headed synopsis I’ve seen on the topic. Lots of shrill whining out there. I’ve learned that if you mimic what Google does on their own property in terms of trying to provide your visitors with top quality links and content, you survive these shifts. Not always, but most of the time. I survived Mayday.

    John

    Reply

  26. avatar
    Eric Says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 4:32 am

    nice follow up.

    i haven’t seen any changes but i’m ready to put some of the bestseller together on a page and start building links for this page. as my company can’t afford build “authority” for every single product page.

    Reply

  27. avatar
    Dave Davis Says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 8:39 am

    @Kieran, fantastic post and analysis. You really put it better than I did. I’d normally spend weeks on a post to create something like yours but put this together in about an hour out of shock and astonishment at the supposed “GURUs” over on WMW. Even Tedster (the owner) was entertaining some pretty ridiculous theories which I found was very out of character considering his experience.

    @Richard, thanks very much and thanks for the mention. I’m surprised this post got the attention that it did as it was more of a rant. In fact, I was expecting a slew of “you have no idea what your talking about”s. You’re post is excellent too, many thanks for the mention, especially the context of the sentence ;)

    @highpowerled, your site and inner pages are a PERFECT example of pages that Google has “targeted” with this update. With your permission, I might update this post with you’re site as an example:

    Look at this: http://www.effled.com/135w-high-power-smd-p-304.html

    No original content and no backlinks. WHY should that page rank for ANY terms at all? You’ve been relying too much on your domain authority and internal linking. Think of every page as it’s own site and treat it (SEO wise) as such. It really is that simple. Somebody else is doing this and has a very big smile on their face with all the extra traffic they are getting as a result of all their initial hard work.

    Reply

  28. avatar
    Medicash Says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Great post. It would appear my site looks to have taken a sharp decrease in traffic since the update. Although a new site is being developed as I type. We are adding a lot of new ‘targeted’ product content pages. Hope this help our traffic.

    Reply

  29. avatar
    Blogging Services Says:
    June 10th, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Really Nice Post Dave….. I am also facing the same problem that with the passage of time, the site traffic has been decreased and it is still on shorter site.

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:June 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Hi BloggingService. You seem to facing the exact problem/dilemma that I mentioned in the post. The solution is simple. Treat each page (of value) as it’s own “website”.

  30. avatar
    Lisa Myers Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Brilliant blogpost Dave. My favourite line “Your cheese has moved, go find it again or get more..” lol…

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:June 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Thanks Lisa. Very much appreciated and thanks for the mention. Your post is an excellent roundup of what’s happening.

  31. avatar
    VizFact | Website Marketer Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    I kinda take this as good news, for years I have been treating all of my pages as independant entities and have wondered why the crappy sites would rank over me. Now its time for some payback. Just getting back into internet marketing in May, this Mayday Update which I only heard a little about (as I was just re-entering the Fray),sounds to be my cup of tea.

    Darn good post, Love the matter of factish type of attitude too, works great when the right mind wields it.

    Reply

  32. avatar
    Gail Gardner Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    As you have so aptly pointed out, screaming and complaining are a major waste of time. Many ecommerce stores are going to suffer because they have little to no unique content and rarely any incoming links to product pages.

    They need to start with adding quality content to all of their category pages and using both article marketing and blog outreach to build incoming links. Those who start collaborating with those they might see as competitors will have an advantage over those who do not.

    Once those pages are done they need to move on to adding original content to each product page too, prioritizing which to work on first by 1) top selling and 2) highest ROI per sale.

    Since Google has publicly announced their intention to favor Big Brands – as you can read in SEOBook’s post about the famous cessPool quote – it would be wise to act on my suggestions in my comment in that post.

    While I do agree that it IS wise to “build your site as if Google didn’t exist” the fact remains that Google currently has a virtual monopoly on both organic and ppc traffic – responsible for sending 60-90% of all traffic and sales to most of the sites I’ve seen analytics on.

    We have collectively handed Google power over far too much so while we’re blogging we can tilt the balance at least for the few who care by regularly recommending others use alternative INDEPENDANT (i.e. not Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. either) search engines.

    Much people THINK is free is not – and the cost I see coming is far beyond what any reasonable person would have agreed to in advance. I wrote a post about those costs some time ago that can be found in the privacy and data mining category on my blog.

    Those who wish to survive would do well to start hiring companies with exceptional skills. You can tell who they are by what they write – original ACTIONABLE advice such as this post.

    If you recognize it when you see it apply that advice yourself if you can not afford to hire them. But if you CAN afford to hire them know that THEY can implement what they explain MANY TIMES more effectively than you can. Experience and existing processes for efficiency are critical to driving results quickly – and every delay will cost you dearly.

    Reply

  33. avatar
    Lasse Rasmussen Says:
    June 23rd, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Great post – thanks! Just two more data points to support the hypothesis:

    A PPC customer of ours with 100′s of near-duplicate pages dropped sales through organic searches by 20% last two months. He now likes us even more :)

    A small SEO experiment we are toying with jumped to pages 1-3 from pages 2-6 on brand-related keywords almost overnight. Site is tiny with backlinks to homepage only

    Reply

  34. avatar
    SEO Basic Tutorial Says:
    June 25th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Great post. I liked your points about May Day update. Amazon.com site didn’t affected much because of their new elements.

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:June 26, 2010 at 4:19 am

    You’re right, it didn’t. Not necessarily because of the additional (useful) content on the product pages but because the majority of amazon product pages have at least one external link to them. Food for thought.

  35. avatar
    Leslie Says:
    June 26th, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I hear this comment from time to time – build you site as if G did not exist – my first thought is ball…ks – G is the game we are all playing and if it was not them it would be another SE.

    Barring the above – sound, rock solid as usual.

    The way DM have been putting up content and the way newspapers have been squealing during the last year this almost looks like a way to kill them off – which I would be delighted with. I joyfully look forward to the day that newspapers go behind a pay wall, yippee. As for the DM crap – well we all know that has been taking domain authority and flogging it to death.

    One last thing – I saw nothing on any of my own sites during May and then on the 3rd June it hit one down 50% and another by 5%. Not so bad as I was playing the domain authority and banging up pages without any links bar internal anchors – sad not being able to be so lazy again for a while… However the sites will be better for it long term.

    Reading Rework right now. “Look to what you have done in the past that was successful and do it again”

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:July 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Leslie, sorry for the delay responding to this. There is advice I give on the AdWords forum almost every day:

    “Take away all ads and affiliate links from your page. Would you still pay for traffic to that page?”. If the answer is no, then AdWords doesn’t want your business.

    This holds kind of true with the organic results (although I know this doesn’t address your first point).

    You’re spot on, Google really is the only game in town, especially in Ireland. You have to commend them though for shooting across the bow of DMs business model. It’s polluting the web and I think Google have just leveled the playing field. A reversal of sorts of the “Brand update”.

    As for the June 3rd incident, over on WMW, there was a thread about it too. An almost “second round” of organic slaps. Playing the domain authority game is still important, it’s just that individual pages, deep links and link bait are back in fashion. ;)

    Finally, funny you should mention “Look to what you have done in the past that was successful and do it again” – This is exactly what Google is doing. :)

  36. avatar
    Simon Dance Says:
    July 5th, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Outstanding point Dave, and some key takeaways.

    Completely with you on losing duplication and ensure each page stands up on its own..

    Great stuff.

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:July 10, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Simon, that’ exactly it…making sure each page stands up on it’s own.

  37. avatar
    Gab Goldenberg Says:
    July 13th, 2010 at 1:04 am

    As usual, I’m impressed by your clear headed analysis, Dave. I only wish it was somehow different since now it seems one project will require more work :P

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:July 13, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Thanks Gab and you’re right. Each project WILL require more work. But you were building those deep links already ;)

    Easier now for those who work harder (or those with deeper pockets).

  38. avatar
    Web Marketing Guy Says:
    July 17th, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Great article/post. I think SEO has almost come in a circle which is why a lot of stuff in this article is so relevant. Originally people just built pages, and whatever had the best content ranked best. Then people started pulling content tricks. Google then originally started valuing backlinks, and over the years people have tried all sorts of backlinking tricks. As Google develops more and more ways to ignore some of these, quality content and quality backlinks have again come to the fore.

    Matt

    Reply

  39. avatar
    quzzical Says:
    July 17th, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I would like to see some specific evidence regarding any change in how deep links are impacted by MayDay. My site has mostly deep organic links, to inventory pages, from authority sites.. in fact I hadn’t tried to build links to my main domains very much. In fact my deep-link structure is one of the main differences between my site and its competitors.

    Yet my site was hit very hard by Mayday – most of my google traffic is gone. I’m concluding the opposite about links – it seems like my links were perhaps too diluted, and I’m trying to now build links to parent pages instead of leaf/inventory pages.

    I also offered unique content and functionality, but it was mostly autogenerated statistical analysis of the marketplace, alerts, etc.

    Competitor pages which still rank well were those filled with tons o ‘unique content’ ie cranked out useless descriptive text.

    I feel that adding lots of text will degrade my users’ experience, but it seems like one thing I must now try to comply with google’s quirky notions of ‘quality’.

    So I’d love to hear more specifics on how links are supposedly weighted differently by Mayday — so far I’ve only seen vague and subjective comments on this.

    Reply

    avatar
    Dave Davis Reply:July 20, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Hi Quzzical, thanks for the thoughtful comment. While I agree with you that there is no specific data to back what I’m saying up, this post is merely an observation. I didn’t claim nor do I believe that it is ONLY linking that causing this. As Searchbrat pointed our above, this coincided with the mass rollout of caffeine so there’s a lot more data for Google to play with.

    When you say “inventory pages”, is yours an eCommerce site or an affiliate site? What does OSE say about your strongest pages (and compared to those ranking above you?)

    You say “Competitor pages which still rank well were those filled with tons o ‘unique content’ ie cranked out useless descriptive text.”, doesn’t that tell you something? Webmasters who believe that building for the user is all that’s needed are deluding themselves. You HAVE to equally weigh up what search engines want too. There’s a fine balance. Bad user experience and high rankings or no rankings and good user experience. There HAS TO BE a middle ground.

    I completely agree with you, Google’s notion of “quality” is VERY skewed. If you have any experience with AdWords, you would have known this a LONG time ago.

    As I said, I don’t have specifics or more detail, it’s merely an observation. All our sites that had lots of original content and lots of links to the root AND subpages did very VERY well. I’m planning a post with AWR visibility reports annotated to show not only ranking increases after MayDay but traffic increases too. We annotate EVERYTHING so it;s fairly obvious what the cause was as apposed to an external, unrelated factor.

  40. avatar
    quizzical Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 3:31 am

    oh – I just noticed your reply!

    My site began as a long-tail event-mapping site and grew for several years that way, before starting a subdomain which aggregates data from multiple ticket sources, so the subdomain has affiliate inventory. However both the content and functionality is unique and adds real value – it generates statistical analysis of pricing, sends alerts, etc. In other words, my site evolved organically very much along what matt cutts calls the ‘katamari’ strategy. Its footprint is very different from the competing sites which still rank well. These competing sites are pure ‘thin affiliate’ sites – just template copies of identical inventory with varying css, text, graphics, etc… no long-tail content, no deep links, links bought or owned or even hacked.

    I’ve not seen any confirmation for the notion that caffeine somehow enabled the mayday changes. Caffeine and mayday were orthogonal changes, with the former impacting only speed of indexing.

    So far, for each theory I’ve seen, I’ve done a point test to see if it changes anything – no luck. Or, I’ve seen the theory refuted by other sites with the ‘flaw’ which rank well. So, any more analysis you can provide would help. I’m thinking about trying the tweetememe widget but — doesn’t it yield links only once someone tweets?

    Reply

  41. avatar
    tiklafilmindir Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I’ve not seen any confirmation for the notion that caffeine somehow enabled the mayday changes. Caffeine and mayday were orthogonal changes, with the former impacting only speed of indexing.

    Reply

  42. avatar
    Petr Macek Says:
    November 6th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Good post, I got to it a bit later but after half a year it still is relevant. I also liked the note about Who stole my cheese book, I got it from a friend of mine when I quit my job and started a solo carrier and the book is right, they stole our cheese and we need to coop with it.

    Reply

  43. avatar
    Internet Marketing Cape Town Says:
    January 19th, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    I believe we just need to go “back to basics” when it comes to on-site optimization: ensure keyword relevance, enough & relevant text content, relevant page titles and good backlink structure.

    Sometimes we become so occupied with one important thing, we forget to pay attention to the basic, yet equally important thing.

    Reply

  44. avatar
    Bolaji Says:
    January 25th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    You have just got to be careful. You are right. Google analytics can change and can affect your entire business. Companies are now looking for other mediums to bring prospects to the web properties.

    Reply

  45. avatar
    Rensol Says:
    January 25th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Dave,

    It’s nice I found this post. 2 things that I’ll be keeping in mind from now on for sure. “treat each page like it’s own entity”, I am guilty of relying too much on internal linking than building links to each page. Also, “make your blog as if Google does not exist”

    Reply

  46. avatar
    Mat Says:
    May 23rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I’m wondering when panda update will come to non-USA land, cause I see the difference in ranking when using proxy. I believe May update was the last one.

    Reply

  47. avatar
    Jackie Says:
    July 7th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I appreciate the fact that the new update makes it small businesses more viable in the search results as long as the content is relevant and of high quality. Kind of evens out the playing field by a lot and gives them a chance to compete with the Big Boys.

    Reply

  48. avatar
    Brian Maher Says:
    September 26th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Dave,

    Great post. I’ve been telling companies for years they need to build a sustainable online strategy, especially from an SEO & PPC perspective. Cheap tricks to get you ahead will work in the very short term. Only once Google has perfected it’s algorithm to cut out a lot of these practices will people finally create websites for people

    Reply

  49. avatar
    forex Says:
    December 24th, 2011 at 6:40 am

    One of the best and most useful SEO blog posts I’ve read (and then re-read) for a while. Solid thinking mate – thank you.

    Reply