Google and Jagger’s Aftermath
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Copyright © 2005, Jason OConnor
somewhere 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.
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.
your site's rankings have decreased, what can be done
to get back to where you were or better in the post-Jagger
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
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).
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 or Jagger.
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 IBL's. (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 true.)
* 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
* Footer Links – Some say links in the footer are
disregarded now. (This is one we have found no evidence
* 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
* Reciprocal Links - Reciprocal link trades are
worth less then they were before or are worth nothing
now. (It's probably true that they are at least
worth less now).
* 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
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.
what do you do now if your site's ranking have dropped
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. You're definitely
going to need more knowledge than this article can
give you to get your rankings back.
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 don't 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.
most 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
* 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 no extraneous
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
* 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
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
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.
OConnor is president of
Oak Web Works, LLC - http://www.OakWebWorks.com,
a full-service Web firm. He also runs Get Your Tickets:
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