Google algorithm update ‘Jagger’

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Google algorithm update ‘Jagger’

This week we discuss the latest Google update, how it might affect your site, and how you can recover if your site lost its position as a result of this update.

The Jagger update started over a month ago and lasted 3 weeks. The update included updating the PageRank of all spidered pages, updating the number of backlinks and most importantly, changing the way Google ranked web sites for any search query. The key features and effects of this update are highlighted below:

How do we know Google is updating its algorithm?

Most algorithm updates, whether on Google, Yahoo!, MSN or any other search engine, are characterised by sudden, drastic and often frequent changes on the search results pages for any search query. During the Jagger update, the folks at Google were kind enough to warn us a few days into the update that we were witnessing an update!

What has happened as a result of the Google Jagger update?

Underneath the superficial changes in search results, the Jagger update has had a serious effect on the way companies use search engine optimisation to influence ranks. Numerous search engine optimisation experts have theorized on these effects. The most commonly agreed upon conclusions are:

  • Search engine optimisation has become more difficult than ever!
  • Older sites are given more recognition
  • Authority sites (e.g. BBC, NHS) are given more recognition
  • Government and Educational institutions are considered more important
  • Links from authority sites, government and educational institutions count
  • Older, longer-term inbound links are given more importance
  • Outbound links to authority sites are considered good
  • Relevance of links is very important
  • Sites with more pages containing useful information rank better
  • Up-to-date content is valued more

How does Google now value reciprocal links?

There are two aspects to consider for reciprocal links. First, Google considers artificial link building with the aim of influencing rank to be a form of spam, and so if it detects unnatural linking patterns, such as links obtained from link farms or link exchanges between irrelevant sites, it will penalize both the sites for this. Second, inbound links are increasingly weighed in importance according to the relevance of the page and the site where the link originates from to the page it is linking to. So, a link from a gambling site to a site about corrective surgery will be considered almost useless. The only type of reciprocal link building that is encouraged is between related companies in an industry e.g. between theatres and ticket agents or between two ticket agents

Google does not want spam domains to rank high on a results page, make a quick buck out of their top position and then disappear. As a result it imposes ageing delays on domains and now even on links. Sites which have been around for a while will rank higher. What this means from a search engine optimisation point of view is that it will take longer to see results of direct optimisation and it will also take longer to see the results of any link development work. Search engine optimisation work on new sites can take as much as 9 months to start yielding results for competitive keyphrases.

Relevance… of everything!

Google’s success was based on the relevance of the web sites it found for any user query. Therefore it should come as no surprise that their current algorithm goes a few steps further in rewarding relevance … of everything – of inbound and outbound links to and from a site, titles and headings to actual page content, page content to the rest of the site and so on.

Recovering from Jagger

If your site has been affected, go through the list of features of the Jagger update, and check if your site might have been struck due to any one of those changes in the search engine ranking algorithm. Re-optimise your site for the search engines by removing any offending content and links and immerse yourself in obtaining more relevant inbound links.