The Mayday Update: A good thing for SMEs?
- June 21, 2010
- by Robert Weatherhead
Towards the end of April, Google released the latest major update to its algorithm for ranking web pages in the natural search results. It has become known as the Mayday update (as most people started noticing changes in May) and has set the SEO world alight with stories of lost rankings and speculation about what the algorithm change actually involved.
After looking at who were the big winners, and losers, from the latest update it appears there were a couple of key changes which formed part of the Mayday update, both of which could place an advantage in the hands of the SME webmaster.
Page authority vs. domain authority
The phrase authority is often used in relation to search engine marketing. Generally if somebody says a website has authority, it means that it has been present in the SERPs for a long time, has a good amount of backlinks and has built up a level of “trust” with the major search engines.
Some qualified commentators are stating that a large part of the Mayday update was a shift from domain authority to page authority, suggesting that Google is now applying authority to an individual web page, rather than a complete website. This effectively levels out the playing field when it comes to long tail content, rankings on specific keyword phrases around an individual product or service.
Why is this good for SMEs?
Previously it would have been possible for a page from a website with a high domain authority, such as the bbc, to outrank a more appropriate web page from a smaller website, without necessarily having more targeted content or backlinks. This was simply because such high authority sites have huge amounts of trust within the search engines and so dont always need to work as hard on individual links or keyword content.
If this move from domain authority to page authority has occurred, this should mean that smaller websites with less overall authority are able to outrank larger ones if their content and backlinks for an individual page, are more appropriate.
Original content vs manufacturer description
The other change which is being suggested was part of the update, is an improved ranking for pages with unique, and user generated content (UGC). Amazon and Ebay appear to be two of the benefactors of the update, which would seem contrary to the point on domain authority. But when you look at individual pages on the Amazon and Ebay sites you see that:
a) They have large amounts of targeted backlinks (page authority)
b) They have original content that isnt found elsewhere, Ebay due to the fact it is written by the seller, Amazon through its UGC of reviews and ratings.
Many companies running a website, will use manufacturer, or stock descriptions when creating product or service pages. This content is usually identical, or very similar to hundreds of other pages across the web. Original content has always be something which is recommended for an effective SEO programme, but it appears Google may have made it even more so with the Mayday update.
Why is this good for SMEs?
Large retailers, with thousands of products, are going to find it nearly impossible to ensure that they write unique product descriptions for all of the products they sell. An electrical retailer for example might have 20,000 products sourced from 50 different suppliers; it is much easier to copy the manufacturer’s description onto the website than to come up with new ones which would take a huge amount of time.
A smaller retailer which 50-100 products or even less, would have a much greater chance of being able to write unique descriptions for the products, and is also less likely to have an ever changing product set which would make it a constant task to perform.
I the Mayday update really is rewarding unique content, then it is quite possible for an SME retail site to outrank a more established one on an individual product keyword.
There is still work to be done
So does the Mayday update mean we are going to see lots of unknown SME websites outranking major brands in the newly revised SERPs? No. Because many SMEs will not recognise the opportunity presented to them and will continue to use manufacturers descriptions and not engage in any UGC or link building activities. For those that are willing to put the work into their website and SEO, the Mayday update could be a major change in fortunes for their online revenues.2 Comments