Google Algo Changes Drop ‘The Other Shoe’

Google’s first big shoe drop was the increasingly common appearance of a map + 7 in response to explicit and implicit local intent queries. That took away many of the “above the fold” SEO slots available to local sites such as yellow pages publishers. However, some of that real estate has been restored in the new Google interface:

Now the “other shoe” may have dropped as algorithm changes that may penalize undistinguished local directory sites start to have an impact. Monsieur Andrew Shotland explains:

Thanks to Vanessa Fox as always for eliciting grains of truth from Google.  At last week’s Google I/O conference Matt Cutts confirmed that there was an algo change at the beginning of May that will likely be affecting sites that generate a lot of long-tail traffic:

”this is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries. It went through vigorous testing and isn’t going to be rolled back.”

I have already seen the impact on a couple of large sites that I monitor, as well as on smaller sites.  In the case of the large sites, the traffic has drifted downward, with a couple of extreme drops, and in the case of the smaller sites traffic growth has either flattened or slowed down to barely noticeable.

This shouldn’t surprise anybody in SEO land as unique content, good site architecture and strong backlinking have been the cornerstones of SEO for years.  That said, it appears that this algo change has raised the game to a whole new level.  It used to be that an authoritative domain could add pretty much any content, even duplicated content, it wanted to its site and with a little bit of effort get strong organic traffic. That does not appear to be such an open and shut case anymore.

Andrew already sees this impacting YP publishers and others in the local space that have historically relied on SEO for traffic.

I also had conversation with Matt Cutts at I/O about this same general phenomenon, except I was thinking about and focused on Demand Media, Associated Content and the like. I wasn’t thinking about YP publishers.

If what Andrew is saying is playing out — and he’s observing it apparently — then local ad networks like CityGrid become even more important, as well as improved user experiences (for direct traffic) and brand building.

Social media and mobile also become even more strategic for branding and traffic (although in the case of mobile it’s all incremental right now).


6 Responses to “Google Algo Changes Drop ‘The Other Shoe’”

  1. Michael D Says:

    I’ve been seeing it too. Directory listings that use to rank for [city][keyword] with little to no inbound links are gone from page one results (in many cases). On the flip side, something has to fill those holes, and in that case I’m seeing more domains vs directory listings. Sure keeps things interesting.

  2. Jason Hyman Says:

    I saw a decline of IYP’s in SERPs, specifically on 12/5/09 I started a blog post that I never finished. it was called “Google and the color Yellow “.
    I started to say…Lately I feel that Google is slowly filtering out IYPs from the SERP’s.

    I started writing this today and then lots of other blogs have some discussions going that literally started today too. I am holding off to post this until tomorrow though (fast forward 6 months and I still never finished it).

    Anwyay, the directories showing up in the top 10 of the SERPs was an added benefit if you’re an IYP (and/or advertising in one). For the local plumber, electrician, etc., advertising in an IYP puts you in front of the IYP’s audience AND also can put you in front of the users of the Search Engines because typically an IYPs directory for that business ranks well on the SERPs.

    A search for “st louis roofing contractors” puts #1

    Google is slowing removing that bit of “gravy” from an IYPs offering by filtering out directories in their results (at least the top 10).

    Anyone else see Google slowly trying to take over all things Yellow?
    I will continue to monitor the SERPS and IYPs rankings within them.

  3. mikesmueller Says:

    Take a look at the number of uniques going to
    The number has dropped over 1.5 million in the last 30 days. Some of that is traffic that is bumping over to, but not that much. The organic rankings have to be slipping.

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks for this feedback.

  5. Top 10 for the Weekend Says:

    […] 7. Google Algo Changes Drop ‘The Other Shoe’ […]

  6. Epictrafficsystemsbonus Says:

    Interresting news, I think that will affect a lot of local business, trying to market online and get high search engine results.

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