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Google MAYDAY Update - SERP Changes May 2010



12:53 pm on May 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >

Now, as the dust settles from the last days and my panic is under control :->, I thought I share some ideas here.

Basic infos:

1. Nature of site: eCommerce

2. Type of link building: across the board
specialties: our sellers get subdomains, minimal link buying, majorly press, partners, etc.

3. Pages on domain: somewhere around 3 Mio. pages,
majorly product details and listing pages of products

History: Until Tuesday we ramped in around 200k Uniques a day - very strong long tail traffic, 65% of the landing pages are the product details.

What happened: First the site lost one PR point from 6 to 5 in the last update. Traffic went up, so I did not care at all, but maybe it completes the picture.

Tuesday, April 27th: solid and good traffic, but slightly lower than last week.

Wednesday, April 28th: first noticeable drop of around 10%

Thursday: 25% loss of traffic to Tuesday

Yesterday: 27% loss of traffic to Tuesday

Think this is the current status: Lost around 25% of power/traffic somehow.


What happened?

Hard to say really, but here are some cents for the collective thought pool:

a) Keywords I monitor are still where they were, but these (around 20) keywords are not really LONG TAIL

b) Some merchants selling strong in the past weeks dropped out of the sky and vanished from our top sellers list: that could be the reason.

I looked here in this senseless long thread :-) and found the following quotes spark a clue:

I think the loss of long tail is more to do with Google's incredible improvements in Adwords relevance matching. - internetheaven

Well, my loss in traffic is majorly long tail - so that area fits at least.

Long tail traffic in most cases relies on internal link juice, this is how it works. - SEOPTI

There is so much insight in that one sentence, I love it!

And I can relate to it in my case:

The few top sellers vanishing from the list are providing thousands of niche products for very specific purposes. They lost the traffic and that whole picture falls in to place:

If this is the Caffeine update, IMHO the following happens while we type:

Deep content is gathered from domains not crawled so deep before. The amount of pages with long tail keywords doubles, tripples or just magnifolds and changes the game as a whole.

If internal link juice is now weaker or stronger: Link building has now a different meaning.

Link juice must be handled under a differen perspective.

Even if we can build up 1,000 named backlinks to a page, it looses its power on 3 Mio. children quite quickly.

If there are major authority sites unlocked by Caffeine with "before 100,000 pages" and after "10,000,000 deep pages" we have now

9,900,000 new enemies in the long tail....

That would explain a lot to me and I wonder what you think?


< the active thread for this discussion is here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 7:44 pm (utc) on May 22, 2010]


4:03 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Sorry, but I do not believe that 107 Million new pages about the iPad were created in the last 24 hrs!

You mean 1,238.43 new pages per second for 24 hours straight seems a bit high for some reason?

Of course, maybe they count each instance of 'twitter spam' as a new page now, which makes the number seem more plausible to me. LOL


4:16 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It certainly shows up some inconsistencies, doing a site:amazon.co.uk returns 15.6 mil results

Change the date range to 1/1/1950 to 11/5/2010 and you get 11.4mil pages - this number should obviously be the same.


7:11 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Googlebot is going berserk on my site again - that's the 5th time since the Mayday disaster that I've seen massive spikes in gbot activity, but still no improvement in serps.


7:35 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Less long tail pages in index = Dumbed down serps

This has been happening ever since the birth of the supplemental index. For whatever reason, google has chosen to severely limit the occurence of four and five word keywords. Instead they try to divine the user's intent and present him with a more general two or three word phrase. I find this quite annoying when I am searching for something specific. It approaches arrogance on google's part.

The reason google was successful in the first place was its ability to find the most relevant page for 'men's fuzzy blue widgets'. If I took the time to type all of that in, please give me those pages!

To throw in my data, my 150k page site has experienced only a 10% traffic drop since early April. But my google referrals are increasingly coming into my 2 word pages. So, using the above example, my traffic to 'men's fuzzy blue widgets' is down and my traffic to 'blue widgets' is up. When I actually search for 'men's fuzzy blue widgets', its not even in the serp, but there is 'blue widgets' with another 2 word indent listing. I am still getting the traffic, but conversions are down.

Although my business has been only mildly affected, I am honestly saddest because I am getting worse serps for my own searches. I really think google serps have been dumbed down!


7:42 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

You are lucky than my site was getting tons of 4+ serp traffic and now almost none. This is terrible move.


7:53 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have noticed something strange with my Wordpress sites, I use a plugin which allows me to add title and description for my pages. Now I have had no issues with this before but now I see that Google is getting the description from the content body...

All my wordpress sites are doing this, they all use same plugin which is "All in one seo" so if any one is using the same it would be great to see if any one is seeing the same in the SERPS.

The title is fine, I changed it today to see if Google was updating and it is, though description is still the same.


8:35 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I suspect that more frequent "re-invention" of the description snippet - done on a query by query basis and taken from the body content - is going to be part of the "new" Google.

I used to happen on a small scale and when the query terms were on the page but a major disconnect from the meta description. Now I'm beginning to think creative snippets can happen when the clickthrough is too low for that position, no matter what the meta-tag says.


9:26 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google is doing Bing a huge favor by adopting their silly layout. Now Google users will not feel uncomfortable and will basically be sold when coming across Bing. Now this massive ranking drop and irrelevant search results? Who is ruining Google for God's sake?

[edited by: cien at 10:09 pm (utc) on May 11, 2010]


9:48 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Now Google users will not feel uncomfortable when coming across Bing.

Interesting observation -- teaching the regular userbase how the competition works -- makes it that much easier for them to "try it out"... all the more reason for Google to get the quality SERPs back ASAP.


John Webster

10:10 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Has anything changed with how Google creates a page description?

I thought it has always made a description from "snippets". If you have a blog page with lots of posts, I would expect its description in Google SERPs to change because of the changing comments content.


11:16 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I am seeing the regular dataset on Google.com and on the Caffeine IP I am seeing the Caffeine dataset and the regular dataset.


11:38 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This probably has no relevance but I'll state it anyways. The May Day update at the end of April coincided with Google Analytics being VERY delayed in reporting. Updates in the past were consistently within a few hours. Now I need to wait at least 24 hours for the data to shake out. Probably nothing but it's another data point.


11:53 pm on May 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Did Google wait until the Caffeine rollout was finished before introducing the new SERPs page layout? Does anyone know the real timing?


12:40 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Fact is there are no adwords ads for most 4-5 word phrases. I would say more than 90% of those phrases are without a single adwords ad across seven industries I work with.

Since the graph shows more people are using 3-x words to find stuff on the web, this could be disturbing for Google. I think it hurts their earnings and it will even more hurt their adwords earnings as soon as Joe more and more discovers long tail.

My guess is they will adapt the algo for long tails to keep adwords profitable. And the key for them is to get a broad match adwords ad on every long tail phrase query.


1:58 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Good point about the lack of 4 - 5 word adwords. I think they have pretty much dumbed them down too. Google quarantines most of them claiming 'low search volume'. They are trying to do with broad match (albeit unsuccessfully) what they are doing with the longtail organics - divine intent and substitute a two worder. All the while there was a perfectly targeted 4 keyword page or adword that was ignored.

Joe is going to have to learn workarounds for his longtails or go to another engine.


2:14 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am a bit confused about this Mayday update. There are few things which happened around the time when this update is said to have happened-
1. Many site owners like me found 0 indexed pages in their webmaster account. and then it started to increase.
2. Most site owners are reporting increase in gbot acticity and believe google is trying to reindex all pages.
3. The new layout was implemented same time.
In my humble opinion update is yet to come when they reindex all pages,update backlinks etc. What we are seeing in google is just a change in infra and layout.


2:48 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Well, not exactly at the same time. There was a five day stretch between the Mayday ranking change (May 1) and the new interface (May 5).


3:00 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

In my humble opinion update is yet to come when they reindex all pages,update backlinks etc. What we are seeing in google is just a change in infra and layout.

I agree with you. I think the switch to Caffeine has two parts to it. The first part is implementing the infrastructure change that Caffeine is supposed to bring, and making sure that when it is on all datacenters, Google can handle the load.

The second part of Caffeine is reindexing the pages that have been in Google's datasets as well as addiional pages (I believe the Caffeine infrastucture is supposed to allow for deeper crawling). When all of this indexing is complete, the backlinks to websites will be updated and I think the second part of Caffeine will also include some small ranking algorithm changes. The fact that there will be a deeper crawling of the web will also lead to some ranking changes but this will be separate from the ranking changes produced by the small ranking algorithm changes.

After the second part is complete, we will have an idea of where we stand in terms of rankings for keywords.

The change to Google's layout brings additional web surfing options but I think this is separate from the Caffeine update.


3:35 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am sorry Tedster. Yes you are right. But it all happened during 5 days as in a seuquence. As Gouri pointed out, they have yet to update their index. During last 8 months, sites have lost lots of indexed pages, lots of backlinks and google has even ignored many new things happening to most sites. So they need to catch up a lot. There may not be any algo change but results may change a lot when they put all these pieces together.
During last few months, webmaster have reported observations about google having data in different sets etc. We still have to see the complete picture which will come only after they complete this reindex.
The day we found webmaster account showing indexed pages as 0, is a start for this process and i consider this something important becuase this is just like a reset. And this is going to be a reset.


3:42 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, I tried Buzzonfeed (buzzom) today and I got quite a few visitors. Made $6 with Adsense after a month and a half with 0 earnings. I used to make over $100/day with Adsense back in Feb.

I tried Twitterfeed but that thing ain't working. After 48 hours my feed hasn't been touch there. Typed on Google "Better than twitterfeed" and came up with Buzzonfeed, registered and added my feed. Quite a few visitors today, 11 clicks and $6 with Adsense. Google still has me asking for water by sign language though.. She really refuses to send some visitors my way.


5:16 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Ok here is one more proof that Gorg is broken

search: google adword keyword tool

in google.com


6:26 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I see an overall slide in the number of indexed pages over the last three weeks. For some who have posted in this thread, this could have contributed partially to the loss in traffic, especially long tail keywords.

Often after significant changes have occurred that G goes through a period of cutting back on the total number of pages, in combination with heavy spidering - an almost 'shedding' of pages in the index.


7:18 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

What i can remember is Matt Cutts stating that AFTER the christmas holiday seasons Google would come with a big update so to do not to much harm BEFORE these days of happy selling. This indicated a big update was yet to come and I think it is upon us now. [EDIT] the article about the roll-out of cafeine: [mattcutts.com...]

If we will see more traffic in the future is something we need to see... no one can tell us what will happen and the ones who can, don't.
What is indeed occuring is a big paradox.... Google bot is crawling like crazy but at the same time decreases a load of pages.

his can mean a couple of things:

- They still need to implement the update and are changing infrastructure and code
- They already implemented the update, splitted indices and moved a lot of pages to another index.
- They are now looking more at CTR and bounce rates (remember the "nice" addition of the "search queries" in WMT? They know exactly if clicks results in conversions.... if not... you get whacked.

The simple truth is: it is just a guessing game in which we try to comfort ourselves. An other simple truth is that the "death" of some will mean a "gain" for others. Google simply does not care... they will always get data, they will always gain money ;)

[edited by: MacSeth at 7:29 am (utc) on May 12, 2010]


7:19 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

If you had made changes to a website which were not visited by googlebot prior to this update but are now slowly being crawled. How long till the next change of rankings, is it the next Algo update or could it be before that?


7:45 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

For me, Caff sends 2 data-sets for every "ctrl+F5".

First data set is total nonsense (As of after 14th April) and second set is little sensible (as seen data before 14th April) with more pages crawl.

GWT reports more indexed URLs. It increased from 92% to 95%.


11:48 am on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Something weird with google results:

Search for: Kalmikoff And Howard Out The Door
(is just an example)

Is google showing you the original page (the first result from TechCrunch) followed by other pages syndicating exactly the same content?
Those pages are not now considered duplicated or near duplicated pages by google?

Now, search the same phrase in bing.

Any thought?


1:22 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Kalmikoff And Howard Out The Door

good example how messy the long tail became! for some of these 3+ word queries the algo really seems messed up. I got the first 10 results with the same aggregated set.

also for music: "mp3 <your favourite 2 term band name> download" the results are as spammy as pre-florida - acutally you can find SPAMdexers now very very easily for 3+ terms!

Therefor I start to lean towards the theory mentioned by others that spam filters have not been applied right just yet. Would mean we see a huge shift sooner or later.

Might it be sooner!



1:30 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Looks like the one box maps are off too. Search for "restaurants in soho" and a map of Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea shows.


2:28 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Another funny result from Google. One of my search terms is "[name of big east coast state] widget stores". My site is #1 and #2 for that term. Today the #10 result on the first page is a widget store in a big west coast city whose name is "[name of big west coast city] Widget Store".

Talk about missing the mark!


2:49 pm on May 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

dertyfern - great example. The web results are out of sync with the map.
This 378 message thread spans 13 pages: 378

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