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Google’s Jagger Update – Dust Begins to Settle?

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What happened? Webmaster’s, site owners, online businesses and SEO companies everywhere have been desperately trying to decipher the fallout from the longest and most grueling algorithm update in the history of the Internet.

Relevancy and Revenue Generation are the two top goals of any SE (search engine). As the Internet and associated technologies mature, search engine algorithms have become much more complex. This was demonstrated in Google’s 3-4 week long 3 phase “Jagger” update.

The initial response was very negative and Google received more bad press from every conceivable corner than what could have been imagined, going in. Many sites fell completely out of [Google's] SERPs (Search Engine Result Placement) over night, seemingly unexplainably. Some have recovered but many haven’t, others have improved traffic.

Compounding prognostication, Yahoo initiated a much milder Index Update during the latter phase of the Jagger update.

Google had several issues to deal with:

1) Scraper Sites
2) Faux Adsense Directory Sites
3) CSS Spamming Techniques
4) Growing “Generic” SERP Irrelevancy
5) Reciprocal Linking Abuse
6) Ballooning BlogSpam

Google had no choice but to act decisively and convincingly.

The following list is how we believe Google has handled these issues in the Jagger update:

1) Increased importance placed on IBL (Inbound Links) Relevancy?
2) Increased importance placed on OBL (Outbound Links) Relevancy?
3) Promotion of relevant Niche Directories (related to #1 & #2)?
4) More weight thrown back to PR @ top domain?
5) Increased importance on Adsence placement relevancy?
6) Possible introduction of CSS Spam filtering?
7) Overall Blog demotions?
8) New and unresolved “canonical” issues?

Let’s look at each action separately:

1) Increased importance placed on IBL Relevancy

Reciprocal linking abuse was growing out of hand, even “organic” SERP were losing relevancy because the majority of active site administrators were link-mongering anywhere and with anyone they could, regardless of relevant value. Google created that monster throwing the weight behind quantity over quality for a long time. It appears they simply started applying several published relevancy measurement factors (See US Patent Application #2005007174), which seem to have started becoming more noticeable during the “Bourbon” update.

2) Increased importance placed on OBL Relevancy?

The patent application mentioned above is ripe for OBL relevancy algorithm application. The “Bourbon” update ushered in a marked hit on irrelevantly linked and broader based directories, while promoting “niche” or “focused” more relevant topical based directories. It makes perfect sense to cut spam at it’s source. This move was subtle but at the same time was an engineering masterpiece because it addressed every form of link spam to some degree, including CSS spammed links.

Theoretically; If a link can’t be seen, it won’t be selected by visitors and no measurable time is spent there, therefore it’s “Relevancy Rating” starts to diminish immediately. Some even hypothesize that those kind of links can effect the overall “Relevancy Ranking” for the entire Site and has potential to effect the page and Site PR (Page Ranking). We definitely saw a promotion of “Relevant” Directories almost across the board with Jagger.

3) Promotion of relevant Niche Directories (related to #s 1, 2 & 5)?

We began seeing a Directory SERP shift in the “Bourbon” update and definitely saw a promotion of “relevant” directories almost across the board with Jagger. Based on those facts, no one can deny that there has been a significant algorithm reemphasis in and about “linking” issues.

4) More weight thrown back to PR @ top domain?

Google had seemed to stray from earlier value ascribed to PageRank for some time in quest of content, content freshness and other goals. After Jagger3 I was surprised to find PR0 pages highly placed in important Topic SERP with a great deal of code and 2 sentences of content. One example is prominent just below Matt Cutt’s Blog when doing a GOOGLE search for “Jagger Update”.

This particular example is mostly javascript, Adsense and intra-site links. On further inspection, the site is well done contains a good deal of relative information and has a top domain ranking of PR6. Based on these observations one might concur that more emphasis has been placed on top domain PR. This “observed” return focus to “Authoritive” or sites holding Trusted” status should hold no real surprise in the quest for “relevancy” improvement.

5) Increased importance on Adsence placement relevancy?

Google has declared all out war against spam Adsense sites of every kind. Many of these are/were faux directories and scrapers or other mega-sites utilizing auto content and auto link generation technologies and services. Matt Cutts in his bBlog openly asked for and gave specific instructions on how to report these sites to help augment the overall effect of the alg changes targeting those raging atrocities.

The war rages on against all kinds of spam, but you can always bet that relevancy, revenue protection and growth will be at the top of the list.

6) Possible introduction of CSS Spam filtering?

Matt Cutts issued an unusually stern warning about using CSS spam techniques, coinciding with the Jagger update (strangely enough) on Oct 19, 2005. Here is link to the article in Threadwatch entitled; “Google Engineer Hammered over CSS Spam Comments“.

There is a great deal of controversy over this issue, but it has been a growing cancer for a long time. Some almost seem to be speculating that Google couldn’t figure out the algs to combat these issues yet outside of OBL relevancy implementation almost dismissing Matt’s warning as “huff and puff” to scare CSS Spam abusers into compliance. Google always addresses serious Spam issues eventually and this one has been on the table for around a year, that I know of! It just doesn’t make sense to ignore a warning from a top Google engineer, does it?

7) Overall Blog demotions?

Blog spam became a growing problem after Blogging gained prominence in 2004. Google had to backtrack on Blog SERP prominence because many of them were not managed well, or at all, losing topical relevancy. Jagger seems to have ushered in a SERP sweep of Blogs that were not topically focused, managed with purpose, and contained adsense and link spam. It got to the point that it seemed that half the top SERP for almost any topic were Blog listings, many have fallen in Jagger.

8) New and unresolved “canonical” issues?

Many are complaining of incorrect indexing issues, especially for sSites that were indexed for the first time during Jagger. The problem seems to stem from the Google treating the abbreviated site URL (without www) and the complete URL. I’ll use one of my own as an example:  www.precisioncompletion.com is a new unranked launch during Jagger and comes up correctly.

Do a Google+Search” class=”bluelink”>Google search for precisioncompletion.com and look at the cache – A PR7 and the wrong website!

Half of the listings are correct and the other half pertain to that other site. Google is aware of these canonical issues being reported, and I believe they are planning to address them as the dust settles a little more on this update. Maybe I need to do a 301 permanent redirect to the full “URL” before I lose that PR7 and see if I can get it to transfer and magically pump up that PR0!

What to expect next?

There are a large number of Sites that saw crippling SERP demotions, including clean coded, relevant, W3C validated, completely “White Hat” sites that haven’t ever even engaged in link exchange programs. I know, I had one that got hit, my first time ever in a GOOGLE update. Many of us in that position hope that, that effect is temporary “Collateral Damage” which will be rectified in subsequent alg tweaking as the dust continues to settle on the “Jagger” update.

I don’t see that Google has deviated off their widely expressed intentions and historical path in the Jagger update. They will continue to fight Spam at any level that protects the footsteps in their expressed intended path:

Relevancy – Market Share – Revenue Generation (Maintenance & Growth) – Fiscal and Community Responsibility.

Ken Webster is a published, award winning technical author, US Patent Holder and Moderator on a leading Internet Webmaster Forum. His experience as Engineering Manager led him into the Marketing Arena where he got lost in that abyss @ Mountain Eagle Marketing.

Google’s Jagger Update – Dust Begins to Settle?
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    Peter

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