Search Engine Optimization SEO - Jagger's Aftermath
Google and Jaggers
© 2005 Jason OConnor
between September 22 and November 17, 2005, Google launched a major update
to their search algorithm which shook up the search engine optimization
(SEO) community and millions of website rankings. The update has been
named Jagger and is apparently finished.
The keywords that
people used to find your site with in Google may not be producing as many
visits any more because the Jagger changes caused your rankings to plummet.
Of course many people have seen their rankings stay the same or improve
in Jagger's aftermath too.
If your site's rankings
have decreased, what can be done to get back to where you were or better
in the post-Jagger Google world?
There are still a
lot of questions to be sure, but there are some good beginnings of answers
as well. Since this update was rolled out over months and in three distinct
phases, it has been much more difficult to determine what factors have
been given more weight or less.
For instance, IBL
(inbound links to your site) have always been important to achieve high
rankings in Google. But there are many different kinds of IBL's. Link
trades, where you put my link on your site and I put your link on my site
may be less valuable than a one-way link. This has been the case for a
while, but is the importance of each changed now since Jagger? Probably.
I don't know all the answers, and I don't think anyone knows all the answers
save the people at the 'plex (short for Google-plex).
What are some theories?
Here are some of the top ones, but I am not saying they are necessarily
true or false. And this is not a full list, there are most likely numerous
other factors that affect Google rankings after Jagger that no one has
recognized at all yet. The following list consists of ideas I have read
online, which I spend hours each day doing, or some of our own hard-earned
observations using the large number of clients' websites in many different
industries to learn from. Read the following with a grain of salt, which
is always a good idea when reading any articles or forum posts about SEO
Things That Could
Possibly HELP You More In Jagger's Aftermath
- Aged Domains -
Sites with domains that are older rank better now - the older the domain,
the better its rankings with all other things being equal. (This is
probably true to some degree).
- Very Relevant Links
- IBL (inbound links) and OBL (outbound links) relevancy is more important
after Jagger. This means that if you point to related sites or you get
links from other sites that are related to your website, you may rank
better after Jagger with all other things being equal. (This is probably
true to some degree as well).
- Links From Trusted
Sites Help - TrustRank (or a similar concept) is more important than
ever after Jagger. TrustRank is a concept that says if you get a link
pointing to your site that is highly trusted by Google (trusted either
programmatically or by human editors), then you will rank better with
all other things being equal. (See http://www.vldb.org/conf/2004/RS15P3.PDF).
- Variety of Links
- Links from .edu and .org websites are good for increasing your rankings
and are more important than ever. (It's vital to get links form a wide
variety of websites. Just like your investing, you need to diversify
your IBLs. (This has probably been true even before Jagger).
- Aged Links - The
older the link that points to your site, the more weight it's given
now. (This also has probably been true even before Jagger).
- Embedded Links
- Links that are embedded in sentences and paragraphs instead of stand-alone
links are weighted more heavily now. (This may be true soon if not already).
- Article Links -
Articles are what directories had been a year or two ago for link building.
Links from the author by-line or within the article that point back
to your site will positively affect your rankings. (And this is one
reason I've chosen to write this article).
Fresh & Unique Content - Now, more than ever, regularly updated
and added ordinal content will help your rankings. (This is almost definitely
- Be a Big Guy -
If you are a big behemoth site like Wikipedia, Yahoo, AOL, Ebay, Amazon,
etc., you will rank better than you did before Jagger.
- High Traffic &
Stickiness - User popularity statistics now, or will soon, affect rankings.
In other words, user actions on your website, like how long they stay
(stickiness), how many pages they visit, and even how many people visit
your site in a given period, can all affect how Google ranks your site.
(This may be true soon if not already).
Things That Could
Possibly Not Help You Anymore, or May Even HURT You More In Jagger's Aftermath
- Duplicate Content
- Any kind of duplicate content can hurt your rankings. Some say this
only refers to other sites having the same content as you while others
say even duplicate content within your own site can be bad. I find the
latter hard to believe since all sites have repeating slogans, phrases,
checkout instructions, or any number of other duplicate sentences within
the same site. (Use http://www.copyscape.com/ to find people who are
stealing your original written content and publishing it on their site).
- Hidden Text - Hidden
text within your html, in <div> tags, CSS, or comments, can negatively
affect your rankings. (This is something you should never do).
- Footer Links
Some say links in the footer are disregarded now. (This is one we have
found no evidence for).
- Directory Links
- Links from directories are weighted less now. (This is one we have
found no evidence for, but is most likely true or will be soon)
- Decreased Rate
of Link Building - The speed and volume of inbound link creation to
your site from other websites, if changed, can negatively affect your
rankings more so now. (This one is most likely true too).
- Reciprocal Links
- Reciprocal link trades are worth less then they were before or are
worth nothing now. (Its probably true that they are at least worth
- Linking to Bad
Neighborhoods - Reciprocal link trades hurt your rankings when you link
to sites that are considered 'bad neighborhoods' by Google, such as
link farms or sites that are banned by Google. (This is most likely
true and has been for a while).
- Link Schemes -
Participating in link schemes such as Co-ops or Link Vault can hurt
your ranking more than help them. (I have not found any evidence of
this so far for my client's sites, but this could be true).
Again, I don't think
anyone outside Google knows which of these factors above are true or false,
and how each one affects a given keyword phrase's ranking. In fact, that's
the idea. Google doesn't want people 'gaming' their system. There are
so many variables that need to be considered that it is very difficult
to figure out which ones affect what.
So, what do you
do now if your site's ranking have dropped since Jagger?
If your site was ranking
well in the Google SERP's (search engine ranking position) before Jagger,
then it was nowhere to be found right after Jagger hit, and now your site
has still not bounced back at all, then you probably tripped a filter,
got penalized or even banned. You may have duplicate content on another
site, or someone copied a lot of your content, or you may have canonical
issue (where yoursite.com and www.yoursite.com are considered two different
sites by Google causing it to look like duplicate content). You may have
hidden text, or keyword stuffed your pages or any number of other things.
Youre definitely going to need more knowledge than this article
can give you to get your rankings back.
Some say that Google
updates have happened before around the same time of year, and many sites
that tanked came back after the first of the year. I dont know if
this is true, we'll just have to wait and see. For those who have still
not rebounded, this may be nice to know.
of our clients' sites either stayed the same or improved after Jagger.
Our own company site improved. But unfortunately, a few of our other clients
saw some decreases in their rankings right after Jagger, and have since
rebounded, but not at quite the same pre-Jagger levels. Here's what we
did for them:
- Scoured their site
for bad outgoing links and made sure that each site they linked to was
indexed by Google and was not trying to game Google. Any questionable
links were deleted immediately. But we did not get rid of all our link
partners, we just culled.
- Determined the
ratio of the different types of incoming links to learn where improvements
were needed. In other words, we determined the percentage of links to
their site that were link trades, one-way links from related sites,
one-ways from unrelated sites, link advertisements, directory links,
forum signature links and more. We then advised them to increase their
one-way related inbound links that are embedded in sentences, and not
concentrate so much on link trades and stop getting one-way unrelated
link development altogether.
- Cleaned up the
HTML on every page, made sure all tags were closed and that there was
in separate files.
- Took out any inadvertent
hidden text. One client had keywords in comment tags in their HTML that
- Decreased file
size of pages, by taking out old links and superfluous verbiage, and
by re-optimizing the .gif's and .jpg's.
- Wrote much more
succinct Meta descriptions and on-page verbiage.
- Made sure that
every title tag on every page within the site was different.
- Coached them about
the importance of continually developing good, quality, original content.
- Brainstormed ways
in which their sites could entice other webmasters to link to them because
of what their site offers, such as good content, free Web tools, articles
and many other things. This is called natural linking and what Google
regards as the only legitimate way to build links. Therefore, this is
We tried to look at
the overall link development strategy, the value of their site, and the
quality of the site, both the content quality and the html quality. A
clean, simple, fast-loading site with natural links pointing to it from
a variety of other related websites, some .org's and .edu's, others from
trusted authority sites, and many from small related websites, that adds
fresh and unique content daily, will rank well in Google over time and
won't be affected by any update, including Jagger.
The best way for you
to learn what to do in Jagger's aftermath is to read articles like this,
participate in forums that discuss these topics, and most importantly,
by experimenting with your own sites to see what works. This takes time
and patience. So does building quality sites that have things to offer
and that subsequently get natural links. But it's all worth it.
Jason OConnor is President
of Oak Web Works - The synthesis of Web design, technology and marketing
Jason is an expert
at Web design and programming, e-strategy, and e-marketing
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