Apologies to all those readers who thought last week’s article about Google’s Jagger update didn’t provide enough information. Here’s a more in depth look at what is going on.
According to the folks at Google, the Jagger update has three distinct parts. While Google has been seeking feedback to each part individually, the three parts still form just one update which means that, with the third part still to come, you still haven’t seen the final shape of the algorithm changes.
The first part, Jagger1, seems to have centered on the way Google treats backlinks, and especially on the treatment of rapid increases in the number of backlinks to a site, which can be an indication that a site employs spamming techniques.
The second part of the update, Jagger2, focused on the recalculation of the number of backlinks that Google recognizes for websites. People have also reported Google being more aggressive towards “canonical URLs errors”, which essentially is a type of duplicate URL that Google penalizes. This penality is caused by Google regarding sites with “www” and the same site without the “www” as duplicate content.
The third part, Jagger3, should be starting early this week, and these changes should give a better indication of what the Google index will look like once things settle down. Matt Cutts from Google has stated, “I expect Jagger3 to be the eventual new index, but it will take some time to switch everything over, so people will have plenty of opportunity to report issues or spam to us.”
So, what can you do?
If you think you might be affected by the canonical URL issue, implement a 301 (permanent) redirect to your main page (so for example from mysite.com to www.mysite.com).
You can also report problems or search engine spam to Google. Google has a special submission form at http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html – simply fill in the details and include “Jagger1″ or “Jagger 2″ (or “Jagger 3″ once it is underway) depending on whether you have seen the changes you are complaining about at the beginning of the update or more recently. I’d recommend you only contact them if you’ve got a good case and sufficiently detailed information – unfounded complaints won’t help you or anyone else. When you have a justified complaint, Google will use your information to tweak its algorithms accordingly, but it doesn’t mean that any ‘manual’ fixes will be implemented.
And as frustrating as it may sound – you might be best off just waiting and seeing how the third part of the Jagger update unfolds. By the sound of it, there is still lots of activity going on, search engine results pages are still in flux and it won’t help much if you start to panic now. I’ll try and give you a further update after Jagger3, when we will know more!