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.