Google Jagger Algorithm Update – Part 1

If there is one thing Search Engine Marketers and website owners fear – it is a major algorithm update, especially by Google. Well, much as we may like it not to happen, its here. Google has recently done a major algorithm update, nick named “Jagger” update series.

Google does minor algorithm updates almost on a monthly basis and once in a while, it implements a major algorithm update. The last major Google algorithm update happened in November 2003 called the Florida update, which created quite a stir with website rankings. To know more, read our article on Google Florida Algo Update.

Like the Florida update, the Jagger update has done the much feared “blender” act. It has churned the top-ranking websites and turned it into a list of unrecognizable pulp.

Google has been a hot-favorite amongst the web community searching for information. Most feel that the search results have always been highly relevant. It would be therefore safe to assume that whatever algorithm Google has, works just fine. So why does Google need to re-engineer its perfect-looking algo so drastically? Has it not heard the saying “don’t fix what aint broke”? From Google’s standpoint, the reason is simple and valid. Well, for starters, web is ever-evolving and the algo always need to be adjusted in order to provide the best of results. Google engineered an algo, which it believes will reward good sites and rank them well for its viewers.

Google, like most other search engines, keeps this algo a closely guarded secret to prevent it from being exploited. However, the SEO community is constantly at work trying to rank their sites well. Using calculated guesswork, logical thinking, special tests and extensive trial-and-error methods, they gradually figure out what the algorithm likes and dislikes. Armed with this knowledge, it is not difficult to work on websites to rank them high in SERP (Search Engine Result Pages), irrespective of whether the site deserves to rank at the top or not. This kind of algorithm abuse results in ‘less than desirable’ websites displacing good sites from the top ranks, contaminating the Google index. Consequently, following the Kaizen philosophy, Google needs to re-engineer its algorithms to keep, what it believes are bad sites, out of its top ranks. Naturally, major algorithm updates upset the current high-ranking websites & sends a lot of SEO professionals back to their work-bench in order to start all over again.

What is interesting to note is the timing of the algorithm update. When Google updated its algorithm in November 2003, there were large scale allegations by website owners that Google intentionally upset the rankings of popular websites just before the Christmas shopping season to force them into buying Google AdWords paid advertising in order to sustain the visitor traffic. While Google claims that the algo update decisions are not influenced by the AdWords team, it is difficult to understand why they would once again choose a critical timing just before Christmas shopping season to update their algorithm. The stakes are very high and its business after all. Google earned $1.57 Billion in Q3 of 2005. If 2003 pre-Christmas algorithm update effect is any indication, I estimate that Google would record revenues of over $2.05 Billion in Q4 of 2005.