Looks like things have shifted again for anyone who follows natural/ organic search trends and I’ve been meaning to share some of the things I’ve seen in the search engines – I’ve even included some base stats but I won’t give exact figures. From all the information I can look at, it would seem that there has been a tweak in Google for long tail search, e.g. the really obscure phrases you think that no one would possibly search for. The site I work on has pretty healthy global traffic and tracking in multiple search engines but my comments are only based upon this so please take with a pinch of salt.
7th Feb we see a spike in traffic from Google in general, nothing from Bing or Yahoo for instance. Checking the locality of this reveals that the spike is most prominent for google.com and google.ca, other sites don’t show as strong a trend, not to say that nothing has changed in google.co.uk for example but I’m not seeing it in our stats. Compare again to Bing and Yahoo and they don’t show the same trend. In fact Bing and Yahoo both show a dip in the prior week.
Traffic is poor in December due to seasonality, so we can rule that out as it’s a given. So we’re more concerned with performance over January onwards. To further rule out seasonality I checked out our rankings (comparing around 20,000 terms) and for Bing and Yahoo they’re pretty flat but we see uplift in Google which ties in with the traffic increase. Currently there is no activity from ourselves to encourage the upwards ranking change. So what we see is traffic being generated in Google by higher volume/ variance in keywords – we gained around 3,000 terms from com overnight that previously didn’t generate traffic and again they were generally obscure and long tail – none of them you would class as trophy terms. Of course my classifications based on this site are going to be biased as what I class as long tail are somebody’s core terms, sorry I didn’t have time to chart this one out though (maybe if I get chance later).
So what changed? Well hunting around and I think at the end of January there was the switch in Google to apparently ban low value auto/ bot scrape sites – no not the crappy Demand Media content farms because they provide Google with a huge revenue stream. So anyway, checking back in the stats and funnily enough we don’t see any correlation in traffic to this supposed release date – but then it would probably take some time before changes were effective or noticeable.
This change would make sense since we’re now attracting more long tail traffic – I don’t think this is a direct benefit to ‘big brands’ but obviously they’re going to have more of a trust factor. Having a look at my own site and even on a poorly optimised site such as this blog I see a small uplift overall and it seems that well written unique uninterrupted content is starting to gain more importance which is the way it should be (finally). Also checking the link profile to pages that are gaining or losing rank will probably show that the emphasise is shifting to heavily penalising crap links.
Also this highlights the fact that if you want to do questionable tactics for abusing natural search then do it for non-English languages and Google sites as it seems there’s always a delay in rolling out these changes.