Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on June 28th, 2010

How Your SEO Benefits from Google’s May Day Algorithm Change

In the search business, Google is the tail that wags the dog. So when the company releases a new algorithm change, it has a ripple effect throughout websites near and far. Google’s latest algorithm change, May Day, was a giant rock in the pond. Mayday – named after the closest semi-significant holiday to its release – changes the way Google indexes “long-tailed” search queries, in which the searcher uses a string of keywords to search. Before this change there was a little extra value on the importance of long-tailed keywords, allowing websites who optimize well for long-tailed to rank higher for those terms. Now Google is giving the same value to long-tailed queries as all other queries. This has caused some websites that are a little “heavy in the legs” to disappear from the SERPs. As you may remember, Google introduced the game changer, Caffeine, a while ago as a significant improvement to their indexing infrastructure. This essentially added value to webpage speed. Website speed won’t trump relevance, but will be the deciding factor if it is the only differentiator in the sites. While Caffeine changed the indexing infrastructure, May Day tweaks the rankings algorithm itself. This change seems to primarily affect larger sites with “item” pages that don’t have a large amounts of links built for them, may be buried deep in the site structure, and may not have any unique or value-added content on them. Many e-commerce sites are negatively affected by May Day, as their individual product pages may not have attracted enough external links and their content is generic and stale. These are the sites that are disappearing, If they don’t do anything about it, they will continue to suffer. There are some websites that are benefiting from May Day’s change. The websites that are now ranking well for long-tailed queries are from higher quality sites, with higher quality pages and higher quality content. You can possibly say that May Day tweaked the “relevancy” algorithm. Before, pages that didn’t have high quality triggers were still getting ranked well. Now the pages with the high relevancy triggers are benefiting from their quality link building and content.

What Does This Mean to My SEO? May Day’s changes are not going to affect everyone equally. If your website is 25 pages deep, you may not drop as hard and fast a 2,000 page e-commerce site with over 1,500 items. But every site is being indexed by Google, so now is a better time than ever to take the time and review some of the finer points of SEO. Long-Tail Keywords Review May Day is definitely changing how the rankings are determined for long-tail keywords. Take a look at how your long-tail keywords are being targeted and which pages they point to. Are they pointed at the right pages (you’d be surprised)? Now take a look at that page’s content. Is it up-to-date? Is it unique? When I say ‘unique’, I am not talking about unique to your company. This content needs to exist in its written form on that page only. What value the content provide? A product description with a few testimonials?

Every product page should have its own unique flavor. Is this electric grill perfect for slow-cooking brisket? Hook the reader up with an awesome recipe with a mouth-watering photo. Sports watches for sale? Provide work-out tips. If you want your product page to be indexed with value, you need to provide some value of your own. Gone are the days of just slapping your keywords into the tags and headlines. The Internet is maturing, and our websites need to reflect that on every single page. Content Strategy There is a new little birdie perching on people’s shoulders of late, and that birdie is known as content strategy. A content strategist takes a look at everything on your website that communicates with your audience: photos, headlines, main text, blogs, sitemap, etc. They will then look at how your communication exists in all the other channels – i.e. email marketing, social media, white papers, etc. – brand guidelines and style guides you may use. If you don’t already have these, it may be a good time to put it in writing. Content strategy can help your content make sense to your traffic. But first you need to find the main pains of your site. Which landing pages aren’t converting, which product pages only produce echoes of loneliness? Your content is the work horse of your site and if you let it go stale, you are dropping on the ball one of the biggest game changers in e-commerce. The power of the word. Review Your Tags There is nothing more embarrassing than having duplicates H1 Tags and Title Tags! For accurate index and search relevancy, you should avoid using a H1 tag that duplicates word for word what your Title Tag says. Use a variation, and remember that the keyword placement is more key in the title tag. Take this example for the keyword, SEO: H1 Tag=: How Your Site’s SEO Benefits from Google’s May Day Algorithm Change Title Tag: SEO Benefits from Google’s Latest Algorithm Update: May Day Review the Meta Description and Tags - they should include the keywords as well to improve page ranking and better overall SERPs. Improve Site Speed Once you have reviewed and improved your SEO to reap the benefits from Google’s May Day update, you should give your site a shot of adrenaline. If you run a Drupal site, your site speed can rely on your hosting company. Hosting companies have come a long way in the last few years from the ‘public storage’ arena to providing full support. Check out for specialized Drupal, Jooma!, and WordPress hosting. They provide highly reliable and lightning fast web hosting. This may seem like a whole lot of work, but it is definitely worth it. Staying fit for search is going to be a big differentiator between the success or failure of many e-commerce sites in the coming years. If you are serious about making your website profitable, address these changes, or find someone who can. Thank You For Reading! Did you find this blog post helpful, interesting or informative? Do you want to share? Please repost, retweet, or redistribute to any of the social sites of your choice, and please subscribe to our RSS feed to receive daily fodder. For every RSS subscription Volacci gets, an AT-AT Walker gets taken out by the Allies. The Force is strong in you. Did I leave any vital information out of the post? Do you disagree with this process? I would love to hear from you with a comment below.