The Jagger Algorithm Update

Google periodically makes changes to the algorithms it uses to generate search results. These algorithm updates are created with a single objective in mind…

To disrupt your SEO strategy.

Well, not really, but it does feel that way sometimes!

Google algorithm updates are notorious for shaking up search rankings, but the truth is that Google isn’t out to hurt website owners.

At least not the ones who play by the rules.

One of the earliest Google Algorithm updates, dubbed “Jagger”, really set the foundation for SEO best practices as we know them today.

What Was the Jagger Update?

The Jagger update was actually a series of algorithm updates back in 2005. It’s not unusual for Google to take some time to fully roll out an algorithm change, so the effects of Jagger were seen over a series of months.

One of the first and most important changes that came about with Jagger was the grading system for outgoing links. Even today we know that quality links with other websites can be good for SEO, however, back then Google’s algorithm was less discerning about the value it put on links from one site versus another.

Jagger set the baseline for a grading system that would determine whether a link was high-quality and/or relevant. It also helped to pinpoint spammy links and began “punishing” websites that were either purchasing links or sharing links as part of a cooperative.

When the Jagger algorithm update rolled out, Google PageRank was still a metric that website managers were able to track. That’s how SEO professionals knew that link-building was important, however, Jagger would force them to take a quality over quantity approach to their link-building strategy.

What Brought About the Update?

Black hat SEO practices always have and probably always will exist. However, back in the early 2000s, these practices were commonplace.

With so many people essentially “gaming the system” to improve their search ranking, Google was forced to make major changes to the way their algorithm grades websites.

Jagger sought to penalize websites that were guilty of abusing SEO hacks such as hidden text, backlink spamming, and duplicate content.

The update helped improve the quality of SERPs generated by a user search, however, a lot of websites saw their search ranking plummet as a result.

Websites Affected by Jagger

Once Jagger was live, your website was in big trouble if you were one of the thousands of people practicing certain black hat SEO practices. Certain factors Google started heavily penalizing websites for included:

Duplicate Content: Plagiarizing content from another website, or even duplicating content on multiple pages on your own site.

Purchased Links: Link farms where you can purchase backlinks are still around today, however, they were a far greater problem back when Jagger was rolled out.

Hidden Text: This practice was commonly used as a way to hide keywords and terms so that search engine spiders would pick them up, but they wouldn’t be front-facing to visitors to the website.

Cloaking: Similar to hidden text, cloaking is used to show search engines different text than visitors to your website.

You may be thinking that this seems like an obvious list of infractions. By today’s standards, you’d be right.

But remember, this was the early days of Google search. Early on, pretty much ALL SEO pros were utilizing these methods to improve the search rankings of the websites they were managing.

That means that when Jagger took full effect, a large number of websites were hit hard.

Understandably, people were upset that the rules for SEO were being changed so drastically in such a short period of time.

Some people even theorized that there was some malicious intent behind the timing of Jagger.

There may be some merit to those conspiracy theories.

If you look at the history of some major Google algorithm updates, you’ll notice that it’s not uncommon for them to roll out around heavy shopping seasons.

So, if you’re a website owner and your organic traffic suddenly tanks due to an algorithm update, what can you do?

In the case of Jagger, many people were forced to start or up their spending on AdWords.

You can see why website managers might have felt like Google was forcing their hand.

Lessons Learned from Jagger

Even though Jagger rolled out many years ago, some of the black hat SEO practices that it sought to do away with are still being used today.

However, it’s getting harder and harder to game the system, so it’s really in your best interest to build your SEO strategy around high-quality content, proper link-building, and good website formatting.

If you haven’t done so already, it might be a good time to start taking a serious look at investing in digital advertising as well.

So many business owners are resistant to spending money on AdWords, but this might be a mistake.

You know how important marketing is to your business. Over the years you probably didn’t think twice about spending money on a listing in your local Yellow Pages or paper marketing materials such as business cards, brochures, and similar items.

Why should your approach to digital marketing be any different?

Done correctly, and expertly executed AdWords campaign can really help you generate leads for your business.

Plus, unlike old-school marketing methods like the Yellow Pages, you have the ability to completely track the success of your AdWords campaigns. Everything from ad clicks to quotes requested can be tracked during an ad campaign.

Maybe you’ve never experimented with AdWords because you don’t know where to get started.

That’s okay, you don’t have to do it alone!

To get the most ROI out of your AdWords spend, it’s a great idea to have your campaigns set up and administered by a professional. You could DIY your digital ads, however, you will likely lose a lot of time and money to trial and error.

If you’re ready to take your lead generation to the next level, contact our office today and speak with one of our AdWords professionals.