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Jagger, Google Analytics, And The Future Of Search & SEO


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Two big things have just happened in Google-land: Jagger and Google Analytics. Together, these two events may have changed the face of search forever.

Jagger

First, let’s discuss Jagger… Just like hurricanes, Google updates have names. (A Google update is a change to the way Google determines its rankings. Google makes these changes periodically, and they’re universally feared because they can impact dramatically on a website’s ranking.) The latest update is called Jagger, and it has search engine optimizers (SEOs) all around the world in a state of panic.

Why was Jagger such a fearful update? Simple… With Jagger, Google once again outsmarted huge numbers of SEOs. You see, many/most SEOs spend their time (and their clients’ money) trying to trick Google into thinking that their websites are more relevant and important than they really are. They do this mostly by swapping links, buying cheap links, and placing links on free directories. While there’s nothing wrong with these sorts of links (i.e. they’re not considered ‘black-hat’), they don’t really show that the site is relevant or important. All they really show is that the site owner has made a deal with another site owner. In these deals, the incentive for the linking site owner is a reciprocal link, money, or increased link volume. Google much prefers it when the linking site adds the link simply to enhance the value of their content or to increase their own credibility and authority.

In other words, Google wants its search results to contain relevant, important sites, not sites that merely appear to be relevant and important. To this end, Google invests millions of dollars and employs the world’s smartest mathematicians to create algorithms which identify sites that are trying to trick them. And that’s exactly what Jagger did; and when it found those sites, it simply adjusted their ranking to more accurately reflect their true importance. (Unfortunately, it also demoted some sites which actually deserve a high ranking. It is hoped that these mistakes will be ironed out with future minor updates, but that’s a topic for another article…)

From a technical standpoint, Jagger was well described by Ken Webster in his article, http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/topnews/Jagger. To summarize, Jagger:
Increased importance placed on IBL (Inbound Links) Relevancy?
Increased importance placed on OBL (Outbound Links) Relevancy?
Promotion of relevant Niche Directories (related to #1 & #2)?
More weight thrown back to PR @ top domain?
Increased importance on AdSense placement relevancy?
Possible introduction of CSS Spam filtering?
Overall Blog demotions?
New and unresolved “canonical” issues?

Some more interesting effects were reported by WG Moore in his Jagger article – http://www.sitepronews.com/archives/2005/nov/9.html. Mr Moore runs a number of test sites for SEO purposes. By monitoring the links to his test sites as reported by Google, he established that:

“all reciprocal links had vanished. We think that this is because Google is down-grading or eliminating reciprocal links as a measure of popularity. This does make sense, actually. Reciprocal links are a method of falsifying popularity. Sort of a cheap method of buying a link, if you want to think of it that way… During the second week of the Jagger Update, a few of our reciprocal links did come back up. However, we also noticed that these were from places where we had highly relevant content. They came from articles where we discussed our area of expertise: Web Analytics, or from forums where we had relevant threads. So we feel that these links came back because of content, not linking.

The other group that came back up was one-way inbound text links, regardless of the originating web site. These links also had strong relevance to our web analytics business. In other words, they contained keywords and/or phrases related to our site and its business.”

In short, Jagger undid the hard work of thousands – if not millions – of people! As a result, hard-won high rankings and revenues plummeted.

Interestingly, article PR (article submission) came through Jagger seemingly unscathed. My SEO copywriting website, for example, went from no.4 to no.1 worldwide for “copywriter”, and I’ve employed article PR almost exclusively. Whether it was promoted or the sites around it were demoted, one thing is clear: article PR is one of the best ways to obtain a high ranking.

Google Analytics

The second monumental event to occur recently was Google Analytics – http://www.google.com/analytics/index.html. Google Analytics is a free web-stats solution which not only reports all the regular site stats, but also integrates directly with Google AdWords giving webmasters and insight into the ROI of their pay-per-click ads. According to Google, ” Google Analytics tells you everything you want to know about how your visitors found you and how they interact with your site.”

Why is this such a landmark move? Because for the first time ever, Google will have access to your real web stats. And these stats will be far more accurate than those provided by Alexa – http://www.alexa.com . Furthermore, Google’s privacy statement (http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacy.html) says: ” We may also use personal information for auditing, research and analysis to operate and improve Google technologies and services.” Now let’s put two and two together:
Google is ‘giving’ every webmaster in the world free access to quality web-stats.
Millions of webmasters will accept this ‘gift’, if only because it integrates directly with their Google AdWords campaigns.
Google will then have full access to the actual web stats of millions of commercial websites.
Google will have the right to use these stats to develop new technologies.
What’s the next logical step? Google will use these statistics to help determine its rankings, of course

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