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Mayday Algorithm Update - with video from Matt Cutts

 8:19 pm on May 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

For all who have been looking for a more official word about Google's ranking changes around the beginning of May, Matt Cutts has released a video on Google's Youtube channel for Webmaster Help.



edited by brett tabke (embedded link)



 1:09 am on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

walkman, I'm not sure if that is such good news for the rest of us. Google's idea of quality is a very odd thing indeed.


 1:12 am on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

backdraft7, I could not have said it any better. In fact, if I'm picturing this yellow page site correctly, it's kinda' scarey to think that's where G is increasing traffic!



 1:42 am on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

" In fact, if I'm picturing this yellow page site correctly, it's kinda' scarey to think that's where G is increasing traffic! "

Why scary? It has EXACTLY what people are looking for despite being simple. I meant to point out that as a rule they are thin pages


 2:41 am on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

think of them as placeholder for future development ... and how often they are duplicated

I suppose by "scary" I mean that the sentence above makes them sound like simple templates without deep content, which is fine if (as you say) it's actually what people are seeking. Without knowing the particulars it's difficult to see the full picture, but if I understand you correctly, you are ranking above sites where the content may be more fully developed, and you have achieved that better ranking even though your own content is "thin". That's strikes me as an interesting aspect of MayDay, as it seems to be the opposite of what we'd previously come to expect from Google.



 2:58 am on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've seen some real nonsense pages rank very highly. They seem to be auto generated gibberish that makes zero sense but is keyword loaded. I also know of a competitor site who is using two domains for selling the exact same service and getting both sites highly listed in the top 2 and 3 positions for the same keyword, even though it's a clear violation of the WMGL's. You can compare adsense code on both sites and it's identical, they register the one domain under their real name and the other under a fictitious name and host each on different servers.

The bottom line is that I'm not sure where Google's going with this quality thing and what is their definition / interpretation of quality. If the past is any indication, the junk sites and "quality" violators may rise to the top temporarily then get skimmed off.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:59 pm (utc) on Jun 3, 2010]
[edit reason] typo fixed at poster request [/edit]


 6:29 am on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

- My sites are relatively new, design isn't that great.
- They have very few backlinks
- There isn't much info on 95% of yellow page listing, let's be honest just some ''related links,' 'map' etc so I am no different. You want to find a plumber on 12345 zip, you got it, but we know that very few have sites reviews for all their listings.
- Backlinks are not from related sites, mostly from my other sites.

However, I am getting more visitors which is very different from a lot of visitors. I was just pointing out some discrepancies, my main site which is totally opposite of these lost traffic.


 8:15 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)


My site gained traffic. It is a 6 year old site with around ~70,000 backlinks, PR5. On some popular search queries I have jumped from second to first position. There's really no way I can tell if it was the result of Google's algo changes though. Our site is a news blog and receives new incoming backlinks on a daily basis.


 10:29 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

sigh, this update is really bizarre from where i am sat...

it's an update allegedly to do with long tail matching but it has instead created an utter mess in very short tail and brand-orientated keywords instead.

case study is an established / matured e-commerce shop, supported organically and via a negligible controlled link building campaign delivered done over 2 years for particular landing pages.

what we are seeing now is incredibly out of the ordinary: an old and currently disabled product (dug out of google cache?) with the correct attributes in title and body comes up as our listing link target instead of the main brand landing page. the listing itself has dropped some places within the SERP but my worry is, how can Google possibly rank a deep level product page over a broad / short tail brand search which ought to go to an appropriate and content rich landing page with PR4 and authority and age. 1500-ish organic off-site links and 10k links within menu system from other site pages to support this...

the product that it lists instead, is not linked anywhere on-site, has not got a _single_ backlink and is out of the sitemap. it has even replaced the link to the brand LP within our google sitelinks... best bit is, since it's a disabled product, we 301 it the brand landing page.

also, we are noticing a drop in many other short tail kw - which is conceivably due to drop of relevance on various links but the annoying thing is, it does not appear to affect the competition. this is particularly frustrating as their sites lack organic seo and have far more spammy and paid for links and have less page content...

I fail to see how the change can be lauded as a good thing yet.


 12:43 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

While my Google referrals have decreased a lot, my Wikipedia referrals have almost doubled...
At least we know that the latest G changes have boosted W relevancy ... sadly...


 12:58 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

As I've mentioned before, my traffic is down, but the Google's percentage of referrals has gone from 44% to 47-49%. This is in the last couple of months.

Last year was unusual in my niche, as sales of widgets or anything related to widgets was at record levels due to panic buying. If I compare this year to 2008, things are better. Google was at 44% of referrals.

I've compared the keywords and phrases in Google Analytics for 2008, 2009 and 2010, and nothing is the same. My top phrases are now more focused, where before my top two phrases were two very generic phrases (think "widget stores") that I don't think resulted in any action. I've lost traffic from "Acme XYZ widget" but gained traffic from "Acme WXY widget."

Sales are 50% of what they were last year, but as I said, last year was an anomaly.


 2:01 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Ok, it's a new month and so far Awstats is showing about 1200 key phrases in the first two days. I started searching and sure enough, I am ranking in the top positions for many very long tail searches. My traffic levels are typical for this time of the year, but I still can't figure out why on May 18th the floor just dropped out from under me sales wise. I am at less than half of what I usually do this time of year (using the past 5 years data as a reference). Right up until May 17th things were doing great, then poof!
So, if traffic is there and longtail still there, what could be the problem?
Is the traffic coming from foreign countries? Are Google's data centers screwed up? It seems so, especially of you try running any one of the multi datacenter check tools. Hopefully this all gets sorted out soon.

I forgot to mention...the Sitelinks that Google lists below your site listing are messed up for my site. It shows a page title, yet when you click on it you are taken to an entirely different page. Strange!


 6:00 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

What is going on Google, my traffic is increased today substantially. I did nothing but got a few links 2-3 weeks ago


 8:22 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Mine too... In fact my traffic yesterday and today is back up to where it was before the drop, and since my traffic and sales have been on opposing courses, it's not at all surprising they're down. So are time on site and page views per visitor.

Didn't think I would ever complain about more traffic, but I really liked the sales more than I'm enjoying the 'empty' visits, so I wish they would turn the knob back the other way...


 12:12 am on Jun 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

It appears that we got some of our traffic back today for our completely white hat ecommerce site. I'm not cracking the champagne yet though....


 4:57 am on Jun 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Great to hear that a few sites are showing an increase. My site is yet to show any improvement, but I hope something happens. By the way, Walkman, Bewenched and TheMadScientist - can you confirm when you first experienced the drop? Was it in the beginning of May or much earlier?


 5:04 am on Jun 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

It was the 17th of May and corresponds exactly with the timing backdraft7's comments note. Interestingly backdraft7 didn't note a difference in traffic, but a definite difference in sales... I saw both, but they went in opposite directions and really made me scratch my head a bit, because traffic decreased while other 'the right page is being returned for the right searches' signals increased, including time on site, sales and page views.

Yesterday and today my visits went back up, but my page views dropped from 3 to 2 and time on site went from over 2 minutes to 35 seconds. I didn't change a stinking thing that could have cause the difference... Nothing. Nada. Zip. Ziltch. The site is exactly the same as it was May 1, May 17, and June 1.

Much like backdraft7 I don't see the difference in terms during the time period, except for a slight shift and drop in long-tail searches and even the shift in terms is small...


 8:25 am on Jun 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Traffic up, sales up, referrals different.

Specifically, we're getting more traffic (that's converting well) to fewer pages. It would be wrong to say it's a shift FROM longtail, because the gained traffic is itself longtail.

However, studying the whys and wherefores of the shift should yeild some pretty good data, and maybe we'll be able to regain the love for the recently jilted pages.

In short, I'm happy today.


 6:04 pm on Jun 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

no change here :(

Still not on page 1.


 7:27 pm on Jun 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

A slightly different spin on Mayday - again from Matt Cutts. This time it's in the one hour site review video from Google I/O [mattcutts.com] - at 49:50 minutes in.

In this response he does mention long-tail, but he puts more emphasis on the idea of returning what Google feels are "better quality sites." He keeps saying "sites" rather than pages - so that may well be a big clue to what's going on.


 8:04 pm on Jun 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

In this response he does mention long-tail, but he puts more emphasis on the idea of returning what Google feels are "better quality sites." He keeps saying "sites" rather than pages - so that may well be a big clue to what's going on.

Thank you for posting the information above.

This got me into thinking, is Google going to look more at the quality of a website and decide how good its content is and maybe pay a little less attention to its backlinks when deciding what to rank highly for a long-tail phrase.


 8:26 pm on Jun 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been thinking along the same lines, gouri. Google knows their original algorithm helped to create a link marketplace, and they've hated that for many years. Now they are finding other metrics, site-wide metrics and not only "page" metrics, to add to the algorithm.

Last year there was the "Vince" update with its emphasis on brands. I suspect that Mayday is an extension of this way of looking at sites. The challenge is, we don't know in any detail what Google is measuring. And given what happened to backlinks, I'll bet we don't learn much about this new direction from Google, either.


 1:13 am on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

About 2 weeks into this Mayday change and still pounded down to half or less of the sales level of last year. While I'm tempted to make some site changes to improve conversion, I am hesitant to do so because sales we going along great right up to midnight of May 17th. Traffic looks to be the same as last year, but this is some kind of weird "zombie" traffic. Can anyone suggest the best ways to analyze my traffic better?
Is anyone seeing high levels of traffic from: spider41.yandex.ru


 1:23 am on Jun 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Am I right that it is the You Tube video that is causing setting off Better Privacy alerts for Flash Cookies in this thread?



 6:15 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

anyone have any thoughts as to what in the algo has changed?


 7:16 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

We can't speculate on that for fear of being banished. All we do know is that Google is one big black box.


 7:23 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)


I think any concept of quality and this update are out the window when what you described previously is exactly what we are seeing. All of the bad sites that were previously filtered are at the top of the SERPs. In some cases the top 5 results are filled by the same company running different domains selling the exact same products. Up until Mayday they were filtered, now they rank above some of the largest companies in the world. Is this what Google meant by quality?


 8:25 pm on Jun 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

perhaps G is trying to keep up with an increasing # of people who actually ask questions in the google search box rather than use the traditional 2 or 3 word queries.

One of our clients specializes in delivering OEM exact part numbers often coupled with make and model, and our traffic has actually increased due in large part to 4+ word queries


 1:04 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

We have a big and highly reputable site. We experienced same issues with rankings and traffic as a result of Mayday update but our rankings seems to have come back(same rankings we had previously). Anyone else had the same experience?


 1:53 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

@kristos, possibly but that to me should possibly be a different offering.

Google was an amazing piece of science up until this update. I could find any subject, any topic at any time with a little work. I can't find anything for the last 4 weeks most of the time.

I never pondered how Google did what it did until after it was gone in the last month. I guess I was spoiled being able to type 3-5 words on any subject and get meaningful results immediately. I just feel like there's been a time warp and we're back in 2001.


 2:16 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

This morning I am seeing better traffic and better sale conversion (knock on wood). I also noticed my Site links have been updated, so something has definitely changed over night, at least for us. Total time since this screw up began on May 17th, about 20 days, so far. Estimated loss in sales approx: $3500. Mere sub-atomic pocket dust for Google, but a fortune to me.


 2:23 pm on Jun 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Estimated loss in sales approx: $2500.

Absolute numbers are difficult to interpret. We've lost maybe 10x as much in cash terms, that's a fraction of our revenue.

Yes, as per my prev post:
Traffic up, sales up, referrals different.

Specifically, we're getting more traffic (that's converting well) to fewer pages. It would be wrong to say it's a shift FROM longtail, because the gained traffic is itself longtail.

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