Google’s Mayday algorithm – the lasting effects

The Mayday update may be months ago now but I am certainly still seeing its effects, so a recap may be in order.

Mayday was an algorithmic change (no doubt here Matt Cutts says so) and its effects were most keenly felt by long tail keywords.

Caffeine was an update to Google’s indexing methods and technically totally unrelated to Mayday, though there may well be some indirect connection.

Mayday and PageRank

It looks like Mayday introduced changes to the way that PageRank is calculated.  Previously it has always been believed to be a purely mathematical calculation based on adding a proportion of the PageRank of the all the pages linking to you.  This of course includes internal as well as external links.  It has always been assumed that an external link will carry more clout but that does not mean that internal links are not vitally important – and completely under the webmasters control.

Now it would seem, Google has introduced a level of relevancy into its PageRank calculation, or at least in the way in which PageRank is used as a parameter in determining rankings.

Mayday and relevance

Before Mayday it is safer to say that relevance was everything.  A low PageRank page would always outrank a high PageRank page if its content were more relevant.  This still seems to be true but there is more subtlety now.  An element of authority has also been thrown into the mix.  So for a long tail search, yes you need relevant (and that means high quality) content but the page – and site it is on – also needs an element of authority within the search topic.

The result is the relevance of incoming links is even more important than before.  Google wants to see high quality links but it also wants to see that the page it lists in the SERPS is an authority for that keyword.  And the only way in which Google can determine that is by the quality and quantity of relevant links pointing to it.

Reg Charie has written an interesting article on how links don’t count anymore, but I think he goes too.  Link profile must figure in a search engine algorithm, links are at the heart of the how the internet works and though they may not be the perfect – and unmanipulatable – parameter, they do say an awful lot about what the world thinks about a bit of content.

The good thing about SEO is that doing the right thing always brings its rewards!  Write good quality copy, on topic and that will be of value to your visitors, promote that copy by developing links on other sites and good rankings will follow.  To some extent, links will happen naturally if the material is good enough, but bear in mind that however good a mousetrap you invent, people will only beat a path to door if you advertise it, so go out and advertise it.   Which is all link building really is.

There is no doubt that Mayday had more impact that most of the 400 or so changes to its algorithm that Google implements each year.  But fundamentally it shouldn’t make a lot of difference to rankings for those sites, and the pages on those sites, that provide good quality content, well presented within well constructed pages.


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