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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]


8:54 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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For me right now when I do a search using this IP (which is the caffeine IP datacenter I believe) [] I get the new look of Google with the 3 columns and a totally different dataset (similar to the old sandbox url). When do the same search in google.com I don't get the new look and the SERPs are the same as before. I'm in the USA (west coast). When I use that caffeine IP I see significant improvements in my rankings compared to the regular google.com. Also I do hit that dataset on that IP on google.com about 50% of the time as well. So I'm hoping that will be the final dataset once everything settles down.

Martin Ice Web

9:30 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

The google serps are now real crap.
Just made a search for ( PC Stromkabel Schweiz = > pc powercord swiss ) in germany.
Now google returns results from sites located in swiss! All .ch endings are bolded.
For sure most of the site have nothing to do with my search.
So we do not have to speculate about google is spreading organic traffic or google installed some new filters. NO not at all.
=> GOOGLE is broken.


10:36 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Same thing here guys. I've noticed a decline in traffic (15% ish) since April 28th.

I've spent the past 4 months seriously trying to grow my site by writing new content and building traffic - only to get knocked back to square one. How demoralising.


11:52 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Seeing a rebound in traffic this week.

Currently UK serps are jumping between two sets of results from what I can tell. Seems like a very new set (made some changes to a site a couple of hours ago and it's showing in this set) and an older set from a few days back.


12:41 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Hi everybody,

How do you proceed to know if the traffic decline is realy the mayday effect? I explain: I have a website with -37% of decline from this week compared to the other. But... in the analisis, there are therms (long tail) that had grown and others that have lost traffic. Is this a normal behavior for Mayday effect? thanks!


1:16 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Another info snippet for the tought pool:

(a) as probably anybody, I once in a while google my full name. The family name is a very German one and not as common as "smith" or "miller" - together with the first name I think there are about 20 people on the world with it. One is a doctor with a website I found a few years back.

Based on that info: the last 2 years when I googled the name I got around 20k results - from my old forums postings to the company entry of that doctor, all quite mixed and because I live online a lot, I "owned" the first page of the SERPS with forums, twitter, personal page, xing, facebook, etc.

That has now changed and I think that gives us a good clue about that "long tail" theory:

The results are now at around 50k, the first page is much more mixed. 2 results on me, then 1 one on the doctor, 2 on me, 2 on the doctor and then 2 directories of people with that last name and then a forumsposting again.

That is an unusual mix and I have to admit might give users a bigger variety for that search term.

I am still not sure about most parts of this algo update, but I think in the "long tail" Google mixes more and has lowered the impact of "domain authority" in that equation.

My theory so far is this:

Real time recognition of a "long tail" keyword - and in my book is a long tail keyword not categorized by the size or amount of letters in it, but by the amount of queries/day.

The major and fat belly keywords are directed to a quite stable set of results where ranking is done like we "think" we understand it.

But if you look for words that either carry no or low Adsense probability like

"delicious ranking ideas"

or other nonesense that you can come up with, you will see:

. more DEEP pages
. much less domains on the first page seem to have authority

than the hard core searches like

"cheap flights", "buy dvds", etc.

that carry strong buying intention and spawn

. domains with "authority"
. old, well optimized players
. etc.

So: Maybe - and just maybe - Google is recognizing the keyword by search queries amount and applies less/more filtering or a completly different algo!

(b) I continued to look at the Alexa top 1,000 - 3,000 and their traffic rank development there over the last 2 weeks. There are only a few that copy my serious drop in traffic and strangly enough they are rather at the lower range or just recently (Jan, Feb, March) came to the club and vanished into 4.000+ in the last 7 days... (spare the "alexa is crap" prayers, its just another info source and might give us some hints).

I repeat my conclusion that I jumped to earlier: Link juice distribution into the deep space of your domains just got much more important - MUCH more!



2:32 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Anyone else noticing their inbound links (as reported in G's Webmaster Tools) going up pretty fast?

We've seen a 20% jump in our inbound link stats during this last week. We are talking 5 figure numbers, so the jump is substantial.

I wonder if the new G caffeine crawlers are getting deeper into the web and finding more links?


3:11 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi maximillianos that's my theory that G is crawling very deep and finding new links BUT by going deeper G is finding 302 hijack sites that would never normally get found meaning that G is hitting some sites with a duplicate penalty when they have been scraped by some scammers.

Earlier i found 2 .pl sites that were getting indexed high for 100% copied content normally these sites would get no where near the top of G. Any one else seeing this?


5:17 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Seeing a change in the SERPs over the past 18 hours...somewhat distinct from long tail change we've seen over the past week. Our rankings for all of the short tail terms I track jumped back to levels I haven't seen since Sept. 09. Results have the same cast of characters as always until about spot #15, at which point the results become deep pages on authority sites, as opposed to the home page of lesser sites (which dominated up to page 3 or 4 before the change 18 hours ago).

Not sure what it all means.

I'm searching google.com from the US (East Coast).


5:45 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi, c41lum.

What I'm seeing may validate your theory. My homepage was suddenly dropped from the index on May 1st. I believe this is a duplicate content issue, but I'm not at all certain. We made no changes on our side, so it must be the algo change, and I doubt it's because of a penalty, because all our other pages are indexing.

Not sure what's going on yet, but I'll update when I learn more.


6:12 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

pontifex: maybe - Google is recognizing the keyword by search queries amount and applies less/more filtering or a completly different algo!

I'm pretty certain this is in place - and has been to a lesser degree for quite a while. Starting in 2009 Google engineers made a lot of comments about "user intention" and mentioned the three basic taxonomies for query terms: navigational, informational, transactional.

They also filed a patent about automatically generating taxonomies for query terms - so I'm pretty sure that the categories in use today are more granular than just those three top-level ones.

Query term taxonomy is a topic for a separate thread, and I'll try to start one soon. I think, as pontifex does, that it could be a significant part of the present shifts.


6:25 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Just saw Caffeine (with the sidebar) for the first time in a search on Google.dk (Denmark). Some long tail rankings where back at the top where they haven't been since a 60% traffic drop on April 14th.

To little data to make conclusions, but I sure hope they role it out quickly - it can't be worse than now...


6:32 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

MY main page had been pushed back to page four for the last couple of weeks, the last two days it's been bouncing from page one to three. I've changed nothing on the site for at least two months. Now about two thirds of the data centers I've looked at have me back on page one


7:23 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

maximillianos, I took a look in webmaster tools and I see the numbers are very high, but once I looked closer the majority of them are within our own site. These should be under "Internal Links" and not "Links to your Site"


10:58 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Traffic on my site has been down for awhile now. The search results are turning crappy too I've been noticing. Can't find anything relevant on first page. Now this new Bing type look :) What is Google doing? Coca Cola anybody?


11:10 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

As of today my rankings are all coming back. I noticed that the icons for google in IE and FireFox have changed. Something is up today....


6:30 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Now seeing caffien consistenly returning the results, this started to filter in yesterday - hopefuly the rankings will return now


8:03 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Well it's a pretty grim looking time here in the UK I have to say facing the very real and very frightening possibility of a hybrid Labour/Lib Dem government.

As usual, I've checked our site stats on waking up this morning as I have done every morning for the past 2 months, hoping for a glimmer of light from Google, but as usual, nothing has changed.

Traffic still down over 50% for the site I have spent years designing and pouring all my passion into to. Hours of every day for the past 4 years taken to create the best possible user experience seemingly now wasted. Still replaced by endless spam sites that look like they have been created by monkeys with a keyword list and a HTML spec from the 90's.

Please just a faint glimmer of hope from somewhere before I sink into complete despair...


9:04 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I have spent years designing and pouring all my passion into

many here feel the same!

created by monkeys with a keyword list and a HTML spec from the 90's

Well, I think the monkey is named Perl or PHP and if you just register a few hundred domains around some keywords, scrape the hell out of topic related sites and pour them around to link to certain keywords you seem to rank again like 2003... just waiting for Florida II here :-)



10:13 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

My traffic went way down today, changed nothing

Edit: However, I get some sporadic traffic for really good keywords, indicating that there's a dataset out there that's good for me but seen randomly. The referral is clear and not on page 44 of G results for example


12:12 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


I agree. I have noticed several sites in my field with the following characteristics:

1) have no PR, but use keywords in their domains and rank well now.

2) a few sites that have no keywords in their domain, but have successfully fooled the Google algorithm by keyword link spamming ( in English ) on hundreds of Russian and Chinese junk sites. It is unbelievable how sites that were largely unknown 6 months ago are now at the top of the SERPs with nothing more that spam links on junk web pages.

The thing that shocks me more than the success of the link spam is that Google actually gives the junk web pages that have the links on them such credibility to push the target sites to the top of the SERPs.


12:29 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



In your case 2, my opinion is that itīs a temporary and instable behavior... maybe the site is top ranked, but for how long time now on? But itīs an interesting test.



12:36 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Well after oh 100 hours of pouring over my logs I have come to a shocking conclusion!

Google is broken. Either they have not reapplied a few spam filters after the caff switch or they have some serious bugs.

Hundreds, no thousands of our longtail terms replaced with KEYWORD.COM/KEYWORD-KEYWORD-KEYWORD/KEYWORD-KEYWORD-KEYWORD.html scraped content snippets presented as an internal search result page, no pr or IBLs to the page.

Something has to be broken here, I just cant see Google wanting to show this stuff to users as opposed to a page created by an expert on the topic that is 10 years old with thousands of backlinks and and average visitor time of 14 minutes on the page.


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

5+ Year Member


Agreed, I also came to this conclusion and doing some general searchs for things unrelated to this topic I was shocked by the amount of 'junk' that was being presented.


1:43 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, from my own analyses, G* is still re-indexing and moving data, many good quality sites are usually re-indexed and revaluated at major updates, which seems like filters are tuned off, BUT actually they are not turned off, it's the PR /Trustrank for major sites while being re-indexed IS being revaluated. They are left rankless and flat for a while, that's why blackhat and useless sites are tuning up on many competitive keywords outranking them, As I said on the previous pages, it has to be temporary.

Many of us here seem to forget when BigDaddy, Florida and other significant updates HAPPENED, most filters seemed to be turned off temporarily for weeks for many sites, I for one remember that, however, now I suspect the above, turning filters off is a dangerous thing to do, so can't see that being the case AND WAS NEVER THE CASE BEFORE EITHER.

It is annoying to see large serious authority sites pushed to page 4, 5 etc for days and weeks on their long established and legitimately ranked for keywords.

I scanned posts since March and from the update, so far I conclude that most sites (not all) which are experiencing this (hopefully TEMP) ranking drop have also seen (or are):

- Substantial increase in their Gbot activity
- Long tail ranking drop
- Experiencing continuous decrease in site: indexed pages
- Mosty medium to large or old / well established sites
- Gbot includes asking for very old non existent, deleted pages / URL flavors
- Penalty like effects, when searching for expected earned keyword returns, you get a site about your site or about something on your site on another site...but not your page or site
- PR is the same
- Search for company name or homepage title mostly returns OK and ranks as usual
- Sitelinks where applicable are still there for main keyword / company name
- No problems on WMT
- No reports of substantial change on sites to warrant the drop and are white hat
- Traffic dropped between 20-90% in the last three months, for some recovered two or three times and dipped again, fror others, dropped even further since the update, but GBot is still at it for most like never before

Those sites IMO are being re-indexed all over from scratch, having their data moved slowly to the new infrastructure and their PR / Trustrank is be being revaluated after all pages are indexed. Other inferior sites and pages are overtaking them BECAUSE G* has not yet finished re-gathering all data on them, old and new, and has not yet applied their rank factors to push them up TO WHAT RANK they deserve, (same rank, better or worse than before).

Lastly, the temporary snowball effects, while sites are re-evaluated, inbound and outbound links are also affected from those sites and to them as if backlinks no longer apply anymore until the complete re-indexing procedure is done and all data is moved, cleaned and ranked again .

On major updates you get MASSIVE SERP changes for weeks, this thread is about SERP changes and we have an update, the MayDay updates, so, this upheaval is kind of expected.


2:34 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

For the first time I'm thinking Google won't be the No.1 search engine for very long.


2:49 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

dusky: well laid out! thx... i also noticed that keyword in url is currently very strong for ranking, do you see that, too?


4:06 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree, a really great post Dusky, a lot to think about there, thanks for sharing that.


4:13 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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

keyword in url is currently very strong for ranking

Are you noticing this for keyword-in-domain-name, or anywhere in the URL?


5:05 pm on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

For more than two months i have been noticing one thing. We have been working on a site where we have been working on more than hundred pages of a website. We could not work on all of them altogether. So we picked up 30 pages every month and worked on them and next month for next 30 pages. All these new product pages rank fast on google.com.au. Few of them appeared later on google.com and many are still to come. The site is not related to au, not located in au. And product pages are related to US only.
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