MayDay! What happened to my eCommerce Long tail?

Posted on by in Organic SEO

A lot has been said over the last two months about the MayDay google seo update, but for those of you that dont know what it is, here is a quote from every SEO’s favourite mountaineer engineer, Matt Cutts:

So: what does this mean to those of you with eCommerce sites? Well the answer despite several months of wrangling in blogposts and forums across the SEO industry is actually very, very simple. Google is sick of seeing 10 different sites appear with essentially the same page in the serps for product related searches. For example, if you happen to sell blue widgets, you may very well have ranked competitively for the search term “blue widget with red corners” or some other vague long tail search term.  Chances are that your site is populated by a large database of products, one of which is indeed that very widget with the appropriate corners that the searcher is looking for.

Problem is, that in most industries your not going to be the only one with this product in your catalogue.  Infact in most industries there are probably going to be a lot more than 10 companies with that very product, or at least an ostensibly similar (from a data point of view) product, therefore have roughly the same webpage advertising it.  No doubt your SEO efforts have covered all the traditional bases, making sure that there is a snippet of information on page, perhaps an image with an alt tag, and ofcourse all the meta title and description fields filled in correctly, and you’ve got reasonable h1 and h2 text as well.

Herein lies the problem – everyone else that is competing with you have also done the same kind of stuff, so from google’s point of view there are 20 pages on 20 different website, all with superficially the same content on each page.

These are the ones that MayDay has killed.  If your website relied on this traffic pre-update, then you’re screwed.

Unless ofcourse you start working towards providing what the googlebot actually wants to see that is.

Fixing MayDay Drop in Traffic:

1) unique content on your product pages, lots of it.
2) see point (1).  There is nothing else….

The solution as you can see from my overly complex list above is astoundingly simple in theory – you need legitimate, real, compelling content on EVERY one of your product pages.  This presents us with scale issues of course, because if you had a catalog of 50,000 products in the past that were doing quite nicely, you’ve now got basically none, and you need to create 50k pages of unique content.  Its a mammoth task, and not one that Im going to go into in great detail in this blog post, but here are a few pointers to get you in the right direction:

1) User Generated Content (reviews / q&a etc)
2) Customer Support related content (will this blue widget fit my green widget holder?)
3) Custom built usage instructions
4) Other recommended similar products
5) Twitter / News Feeds

So – have you been hit with the MayDay 2010 Algo update?  Leave a comment below or discuss it in the SEO Forum.