Google has confirmed a May algorithm update which is said to have impacted the ranking of search results for long tail queries. First reported by users on Webmaster World, many site owners are complaining of a 10-50% drop in traffic from mostly long tail search queries.
Following the discussion on Webmaster World, Matt Cutts confirmed the update via a video on the Google webmaster YouTube channel. According to Matt, this is an “algorithmic change and it does impact long tail searches more than head searches”.
This change started out as one of the daily tweaks to Google’s search algorithm, but gained more coverage than usual because of the noticeable traffic impact to some websites. While we haven’t seen any impact here at ineedhits, Matt suggests the update is more likely to impact sites that match off-topic long tail searches, rather than being an authority on the topic in question.
Some other points to note about the change:
This change is not the result of Google manually selecting some sites to be flagged.
The change is an algorithmic change only.
It is a permanent change that has now been fully released.
It is completely independent of the caffeine update
If your site has been impacted, Matt recommends improving the content on any “thin” pages which had been attracting a lot of long tail visitors.
Matt is a marketing professional at ineedhits.com, an international search marketing firm. Matt's passion for online marketing began at university and has proved invaluable in steering product development and marketing initiatives at the company. Matt is a regular contributor to the ineedhits search marketing blog.