Google Updates Rankings: Will Your Website Survive?

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) October 24, 2005

Google’s most recent update, dubbed “Jagger”, has left many companies who lost their previously high search engine rankings asking, “What happened? Why us?” Since its introduction, Jagger has been wreaking havoc with Google search results across multiple industries. It is critical for companies to understand what this update means for the future of organic search engine marketing, and how to avoid lower rankings and resulting loss of traffic for their own websites.

Jagger is one of the most significant updates from a major search engine. When asked about Jagger on October 23rd, Matt Cutts, a software engineer for Google, stated, “I wouldn’t be surprised if a second stage of the (Google) index rolls out around this time next week. I also wouldn’t be surprised if a third stage of the index rolls out the week after that.”

After the first round of this update, thousands of websites that formerly received an abundance of traffic from Google’s search results are no longer ranking. So, what we have seen thus far may just be the beginning of a revision that has left many companies panicking. To get to the bottom of these drastic ranking adjustments, we must first examine how the recent Jagger update has changed the search engine playing field.

The most discernible changes are the PageRank and backlinks updates. Although these can each have an effect on rankings, they are not out of the ordinary. When asked about the update, Danny Shepherd, senior strategist at Titan SEO http://www.titan-seo.com , a Carlsbad, California, based search engine marketing firm, explained that there is much going on in this update, resulting in considerable ranking changes. Shepherd stated, “Search engines are inevitably evolving, and the great majority of the changes are for the better. Search engines are improving their ability to recognize and punish websites that are spamming. Even more compelling is their ability to take advantage of new technology by improving their ranking algorithms. Google’s Jagger update is certainly one of the most significant updates we have yet seen. These new updates appreciably change the manner in which Google reacts to on-page factors such as text and coding, and to off-page factors such as linking architecture. The update still in it’s early stages, but from what we can see so far, it is not adversely affecting websites that have implemented a high level of sophisticated search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, websites with exceptional SEO are seeing enormous increases in rankings and traffic with this new update.”

Shepherd also pointed out that the Jagger update brought with it complications with canonical URL errors. Google and other search engines do not like duplicate content, and thus often penalize websites that have the same content on different pages. In some cases, Google spiders are now treating URLs such as “http://www.domain.com” and “domain.com” as completely unique URLs. Often referred to as a canonical URL problem, a website could be completely dropped from a search engine’s index if this happens. Shepherd advised that a 301 redirect from the “domain.com” URL to the “http://www.domain.com” URL should fix the problem.

Google’s Jagger update contains other major changes that are affecting website rankings and resulting traffic across all industries. One of the most noticeable changes involves how Google treats internal linking, including the relationship of backlinks and reciprocal link exchanges between websites. Jagger has severely penalized websites that do not have exemplary link architecture both internally and externally. Titan SEO’s Shepherd explains, “Google and the other major search engines are very particular about the manner in which websites are linked both internally and externally. Done appropriately, proper link architecture can do wonders for search engine rankings. On the other hand, when linking is done incorrectly or too aggressively it can elicit major problems.”

Google also made it clear that they dislike invisible text. Google’s Matt Cutts was quoted as saying, “I don’t recommend that people use CSS to hide text.” Unscrupulous companies that use invisible text to spam their way to the top of the rankings were hit hard with this recent update. It is clear that Google is taking a stance against spammers and unethical SEO practices.

So what about the good guys whose websites got slaughtered after Jagger rolled out? The first important thing to remember is that this update is not yet completed. Websites may still have a chance at getting back into the Google index. Shepherd suggests, “Site owners should take a look at their overall long term SEO goals. Bear in mind that search engines often modify and update their ranking algorithms. To stay on top, site owners need top tier professional level knowledge and up-to-date SEO strategies. Since search engines are constantly evolving, it’s imperative to be certain that your strategies are evolving with them.”

It’s important to keep in mind that search engines have no legal obligation to provide rankings which will result in free website traffic. Search engine companies are businesses whose goal is to increase their revenue through paid advertising and Pay Per Click. While organic search is an extremely important component of a search engine’s value to it’s users, organic search does not pay the bills.

It may be more than a coincidence that this major update occurred right before the holiday season. It is highly probable that companies who recently lost their rankings and resulting traffic will bite the bullet and invest heavily in Pay Per Click advertising this holiday season in order to make up for their lost organic search engine traffic. This is yet another reason why it is important for companies to stay on top of their organic SEO techniques, and employ a knowledgeable SEO company or team to help weather these recurrent storms.

Sources:

Titan SEO: Search Engine Marketing Company

Matt Cutts: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ Google Engineer

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