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Google’s long tail search changes

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Sunday May 30, 2010 )

Noticed a change in your Google traffic this month but can’t pinpoint what it is? Maybe the answer lies in the long tail.

The “long tail” in relation to search engine traffic is the visitors you get who have used complex or less popular queries on a search engine.

According to an article by Vanessa Fox on SearchEngineLand, Google recently implement an algorithmic change in Google, “looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries”.

.. and it’s here to stay.

Vanessa says the change appears to be affecting content that is buried; i.e. it takes a few clicks from the home page to access or doesn’t have many links pointing to it, either from the site itself or outside sources. The former is a common scenario on large ecommerce sites where it takes some drilling down through categories to get to a specific page.

If you have been affected, Vanessa’s advice is to first isolate queries where changes have occurred. This is easily done with Google Analytics using the keyword report in conjunction with the date comparison function. She suggests to then run those queries on Google and see who’s ranking well and look at what they are doing that you aren’t.

Vanessa also recommends flattening navigation structure – less clicking from the home page to specific product pages or articles; as each click is also an extra step for a search engine spider to take. The deeper something is buried, the less “important” it may appear to be in terms of ranking calculation.

Also take extra care with anchor text – “click here” as anchor doesn’t have anywhere near the weight of using anchor text relevant to the target page.


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