The buzz in the Search Engine Optimization community is a recent algorithm update that Google just completed referred to as the Google May Day Update. The changes are impacting the traffic of websites and blogs alike. The following post highlights these changes in easy understand terminology and provides a suggested course of action:
The changes in Google May Day focus on the quality of content and the perceived authority of a website or blog. Google is trying to provide the best search result for any given search. These changes are best summarized by Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam Team, in the following embedded video.
For bloggers, the impact of Google May Day could be a significant drop in traffic for “long tail” search. Long tail search is an SEO term used to describe less popular search terms.
The long tail of search refers to the vast number of lower traffic volume keywords that are often much less competitive (for SEO) than the most popular keywords. (courtesy of Web 1 Marketing Inc)
Many blogs see a significant amount of their traffic from long tail search. Thus, the May Day change will potentially impact the overall traffic volumes from natural search engines on these blogs. There are also suspected changes in the assessed value of inbound links to websites as well. Google has raised the quality bar for both content and links.
What Should A Blogger Do About Google May Day?
The first thing you should do is look at your Google Analytics and see if you have a decrease in traffic. If you do, dig deeper into the previous month’s data and see if it is related to long tail search. For example, if your blog is about “Southern cooking”, your short tail keyword traffic might be on terms such as “Southern recipes”, “Souther cuisine”, or “Southern cooking”. Still, you might have gotten long tail hits on terms such as “gluten free southern biscuit recipe”. Examine your keyword referrals and see if this type of search has dropped off. If it has, you might have some content optimization to do. In terms of links, good content drives good links. So, I’d go back to focusing on the content. If your content is well received by Google, others will find it and if they see value in it, they will link to it. It is a Catch-22.
There are several free tools on the market that will help you look at the content on a given web page or blog post. One is David Naylor’s content analyzer and another is SubmitExpress.Com’s Keyword Analyzer. These tools will allow you to look at 1, 2, and 3 keyword pairs and understand what percentage of the overall content on the page they occupy.
If you have a blog post that had long tail search traffic that has now disappeared, experiment with turning the long tail search terms into short tail keywords and optimize around it. Back to my previous example, “gluten free biscuits” might be the right keyword to take from the longer tail phrase. Once you have identified the keyword, optimize it to an exceptible keyword density threshold. A good rule of thumb is to have a density level of 1.8% to 2.5% for any given keyword or group of keywords. For example, in my last post which talked about the future of Digg.Com, you can see density of keywords like Digg, Twitter, and Facebook.
Now, I wrote this blog post with the intention of it being shared on social media more than found via search. Thus, I didn’t do the greatest job as my density of the keyword Digg is actually boarding on being excessive.
One of the problems that a blogger faces is that you can’t analyze your content with these free analyzers until it is posted. The problem is that once you post it search engine robots will be on it immediately and will index the non-optimized content. Though these tools will be fine for you to go an analyze blog posts you’ve already written, if you want to analyze as you write, the best solution is a paid service called Scribe Content Optimizer . Scribe will allow you to do content analysis while your post is in draft mode in common blogging systems including WordPress and Drupal.
Google is constantly going to be changing their algorithms. Having been in this business for a decent amount of time, one thing I can say is that good content will always prevail. And besides courting search engines, your readers will appreciate quality content as well.