Matt Cutts, one of Google’s Search Quality engineers and the primary liaison with the SEO community, posted a video on YourTube that confirms some of the recent changes in Google’s ranking algorithm that has been given the name Mayday by the Webmaster World forum.
Matt Cutts confirmed that a ranking algorithm change did occur and was implemented around April 28 to May 3, which is why it was dubbed Mayday. While Google is calling it a search quality update, it was primarily focused on improving the results for long tail queries. A long tail search is one that focuses on obtaining a very specific set of results using keywords that go beyond the normal generic, commonly-used search phrases. For example, a standard search for a local physician might be, “Phoenix doctor”. However, those search results might include all doctors in Phoenix and not those specializing in a particular area. If you are looking for an eye doctor in Phoenix who accepts Medicare payments, a long tail search might be something like, “Phoenix eye doctor Medicare”, which returns a different set of results.
Matt also confirmed that Google makes over 400 algorithm changes per year and this change is permanent.
The video references a thread in the Webmaster World forum where users are discussing what they see as the negative impact of the algorithm change. The thread is called, Google Mayday Update. If you are experiencing a recent decline in traffic referrals from Google, it might be useful to read through this forum thread.
So if you have experienced a recent decline in traffic that could be associated with the Mayday update, what should you do? Matt offers some standard Google advice, which may or may not resolve your particular issue. His advice is to add great content that would lead users to believe that your site is an authority site. An authority site in one that offers the best information, answers or solutions for a particular issue. Authority sites and world class information tends to cause people to link to an article. An authority site is also generally a large site. This implies that good quality content, multiple pages of content focused on a specific topic, and links to a page are important factors.