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The Best SEO Article You’ll Read Today!

Not a day passes that I don’t get into some kind of discussion that’s related to the Google Mayday Update and the subsequent loss of longtail search traffic many people have seen. This is especially true on smaller niche affiliate or ecommerce sites that may be a bit on the thin side of content or simply lack the authority that time and lots of link love can deliver to make them awesome.

In this Niche Store Builder article, I want to look at some of the factors I feel are affecting longtail search results, as well as talking about a few small steps you can take to evaluate and  Improve SEO on your existing pages.

If you are unsure about the Google update I’m talking about, you can read more about when I first spotted the Mayday effect on a few of my sites, or when  Google confirmed the Mayday Update to Search Engine Land. If all else fails… just watch the Matt Cutts Mayday video on Youtube.

All said – even though this article is very specific to ranking better in Google after the Mayday update, it’s probably safe for you to assume it will help elsewhere too! :-)

The Longtail Before Mayday

If you have been around for more than a few weeks, you know that one of the key elements, (if not the most important) on your page is the title element. The page title sets the bar for the entire page and in the past, we used to:

  • Discover the Longtail Target (I still like MNF for speeding up the discovery process)
  • Include the longtail phrase in the Title Element of the page
  • Include the longtail  in the URL path
  • Include the longtail in the Heading tags (h1-h3)
  • Write some Unique Content about the longtail target
  • Optimize the longtail target in the Alt text, BackLinks, etc.

I realize I am over-simplifying the process, but in general, this is the point where you would just sit back and enjoy the low hanging fruit… usually within minutes or just a few hours at best! Matt Cutts, head of Google webspam even talked about using longtail phrases as an SEO strategy in 2006, but then… 2006 is like 25 years ago in terms of SEO!

The Mayday Effect on Brand Ranking

When Google put the Mayday Update into action, one of the biggest changes I saw across several of the product related websites I have a hand in, was in reference to Brand Authority. Higher relevance was shifted to the brand itself when it was included as part of a query, and depending on how that query was presented. (informational or transactional)

  • Pre Mayday[Brand + Product + Verb + Whatever] = Awesome Search Result Ranking
  • Post Mayday
    • { query….
    • [Brand] = Brand Related Rank +
    • [Product] = Product Related Rank +
    • [Verb] = Verb Related Rank +
    • [Whatever] = Other Related Rank
    • … end query, compute rank}
  • = Final Search Rank

Again, I have obviously simplified this entire process… but before the update, it was much more realistic to build a page about a “branded product model color sale review” and have it rank predictably well, based on the overall ranking of the longtail phrase and the competition at the full phrase level! (Say that twice!)

And it’s not just the brands that changed

Just when you think you got the new “Brand Relevance” in your head, you realize that you also need to pay close attention to the shorter, 1 and 2 generic words and phrases with high volume! You know… those big money phrases that are usually well established by the high-authority, well aged and so-well-linked domains, that you fear you will never have a chance to compete with them!

Tips to Improve Onsite SEO

One of the first things you need to consider when it comes to fixing onsite SEO issues, is that you probably don’t want to make wholesale onsite changes without first understanding the consequences, and knowing that it may raise a red flag! Changes to URL structure, page or site title changes, even just adding new links to your already indexed page content, is likely to have a short-term negative effect on the specific page! There… you’ve been warned! :-)

Now with the warning out of the way… what can you do?

The changes you can make probably have nothing to do with rewriting your titles as you might think at this point! Instead, there are probably some structural changes that will increase the relevance of the site content, and make our titles more relevant!

First – Accept the Change!

I will be the first person to say that there’s never a convenient time to experience a traffic loss! Of course, you never want to tear apart a site in the 4-6 weeks prior to your busy season (aka Xmas, Halloween, Travel season, etc) but once you identify that areas need to be changed, you do have to do it sometime!

Acceptance is the hardest for me too… just look around this place! :-)

Review Your Keyword Funnel and Site Silo!

One of the better site optimization articles I’ve read in the past few months was about how to silo your website from Micheal Gray. The reason it deserves a good read from anyone who builds or manages their own website, is that it covers one of the basics of site building, the core site architecture!

It’s also worth mentioning that the article is written in such a way that you get a pretty clear understanding of how google, or anybot may crawl through your website and through those logical branches of the Silo, learn what your website is meant to be about!

Take Advantage of Your Own Popularity!

Ryan Cramer has a great article that describes several on-site seo practices! Pay particular attention to Tip #8, talking about your internal link structure and developing a set of best practices! We all spend countless hours trying to build quality backlinks to our best content… when in reality, we already have the best content, easiest to get, and highly relevant backlinks on our own websites!

Keep your list of targets nearby whenever you write new content, consistently linking to it, and funnel your traffic and onsite authority to the right places!

Don’t Change a Single Thing Without a Plan!

Even a house of cards starts with a plan and so should any changes you make to your website! Get out your trusty pen and paper, start a new draft of changes page within your own site, or draw it on the wall in front of your monitor… whatever you do, do something to plan and track your changes!

  • Define Your Goals
  • Map out your Changes (what, why, where, when, how)
  • Put the Plan Into Action!
  • Track Your Efforts

What Has Mayday Taught You?

It’s been more than 4 months since Mayday… what trends have you spotted on the sites you manage, and how have you worked to overcome the Mayday Effect?

Previously Published Articles You May Like to Read:

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