Google Update Has Some Calling 'Mayday'

Online sellers feel lost at sea following search algorithm changes.

by staff writer
- Jun 02, 2010

Some e-commerce sites are noticing a drop in rankings on Google and a dip in traffic following the search engine's latest algorithm update.

The update is the search engine's attempt to give people browsing online the most relevant search results by "looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries," says Google spokesman Matt Cutts. But it has already caused such distress among online sellers that it has been dubbed "Mayday" by Webmaster World.

The algorithm will look for external links and "substantial unique and valued-added content" to determine which sites are the most relevant and should be displayed near the top of search results. This can be an obstacle for online sellers, since they may opt to use a manufacturer's description and lack outside links, notes Vanessa Fox, a contributing writer for Search Engine Land.

"This change seems to have primarily impacted very large sites with 'item' pages that don't have many individual links into them, might be several clicks from the home page, and may not have substantial unique and value-added content on them," she reports.

Some sites say the change is already costing them up to 50 percent of their Google traffic and taking a toll on their bottom line.

"We're a small firm and competition is very fierce. Google is making it far too complex for the average Joe to be where he belongs in ranking," one seller writes. "We have been around for 15 years online, and always have been No. 1 organic in our area of expertise. Now we're ranked 4 or 5. It has had a horrible impact on our sales."

Google says it regularly updates its algorithm to give browsers the best experience, and this latest enhancement is no exception.

"We make more than 400 changes per year, in terms of actual quality changes where we're either tweaking or introducing or improving an algorithm," Google's Cutts says in a video explaining the change. "We do believe [this change] is a quality win."

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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