dimitar - 8:49 am on Jul 20, 2010 (gmt 0)
flicky: yeah, I can report similar findings across 2 separate e-commerce sites I do front end dev work on - running a different backend, markup and product base.
the common thing was that prior to mayday, they both did very very well within their nichés - including very strong long tail traffic.
since mayday, longtails are all but gone. keywords for particular products that used to land page 1 now do not show in the first 200 results. there is no logic explanation for this at all
landing pages traffic (brand based) has largely remained the same, perhaps a very slight drop.
looking at this and trying to combat the longtail problem, I have done a number of changes that I would consider serious, at least on one of the sites.
due to product variations (colour versions), certain products were being shown via 2-3-4 or even 5 different links that would pre-select a different colour for the user (links from list view). these variants are now beind a no-follow and there is a canonical rel on all variants to the default product version instead.
content wise, the site has bazaar voice reviews (iframe based) which I have now modded to output review texts inline under a noscript tag (so much more unique content on every product page has become available).
no change in serps. if anything, pages of over 2-3 years of age on certain products have gone from the serps completely (unless you add the domain name to the keywords).
as an experiment, I even posted a post mentioning a particular product that used to be #2 on page 1 before on a web development blog and it showed up in the serps within 10 mins some 100+ results ahead of the e-commerce site's page.
i re-organised the linking strategy which was user-centric (funnelling traffic down by category from landing pages by brand, eg, Nike > Shoes > Trail running shoes > Mens trail running shoes etc which was providing a deeper level of linking to products - instead, the products are now also linked from the main landing pages. all variants which can be construed as duplicate content now have a canonical link to a top-most category.
no change in google rankings.
another interesting side effect, the automated breadcrumb parsing for the pages on the site have now gone and it shows the urls instead.
yet another thing i am noticing is a severe drop in the craw rate of the product pages in comparison to craw rates at end of april / may - i suppose this is relevant in the context of caffeine. custom crawl rates have little to no effect - can't hurry love?
if this continues, we are likely to go under - i am totally lost for words and devoid of ideas now.
our linking strategy has been organic links built at a rate of less than 1 a day from a relevant source (not paid) - done over the course of 2 years or so, targeting either the home page or the main brand landing pages.
one thing that is puzzling is, google seems to rank really high for old/disabled products that 301 to the parent brand pages (despite of it crawling them from cache and getting the 301, repeatedly). sigh...