Google has recently gone through an update which has seen many websites that had previously held strong rankings vanish from view. There are a few aspects this latest update has focused on, however the focus of my article will be on "Reciprocal Linking" and the impact this has had from a search engine positioning perspective. With many of the updates in the past, site rankings have somewhat fluctuated, but with the most recent Jagger Update, many website owners may still feel stressed, wondering where their websites have vanished to! Firstly, let me explain why Google has regular updates. A Google update is a change to the way Google determines rankings of websites listed within its search engine database. The latest update is referred to as the "Jagger Update". Google's main focus has always been to ensure relevance in the return of search engine results. To achieve this, Google periodically makes algorithmic changes to the way it returns results from its search index keeping them as accurate as possible. The reason Google does this is due to:

  1. Technology changes and the type of websites created using these technologies.
  2. Unethical manipulation of search engine rankings by website owners or SEO specialists.

In the latest Jagger update, a few areas have been targeted to improve search engine results. I will cover these in subsequent articles. The first of these is Reciprocal Link Building. Reciprocal Link Building Reciprocal Link Building is where two websites place an external link to each other's site, i.e. Website A points to website B. Website B links to website A. Google has always placed a lot of weight on is the popularity of one website linking to another. The reasoning behind this is that if a particular website has many links from different domains pointing to it, then this website must be important. This concept is behind Google Page Rank. In essence, this concept is a good measure for determining the relevance of a website, because website owners will often provide a relevant link from their website to different websites they feel would benefit their visitors. Many website owners and SEO specialists would (and still do) use the Reciprocal Linking method to inflate a website's ranking. The problem with this being such an important measure in Google's eyes is that this was not difficult to manipulate. Many companies offer "reciprocal link building" as a method to improve a website's rankings. One of the major problems has been that many of the links added in the Reciprocal Link building schemes have no relevance to the websites they are linking from or to, e.g. a Search Engine Positioning Company swapping links with a Pet Food Distributor. Google still rightly maintains that external website linking is a good measure of popularity, and has focused algorithmic changes around ensuring their rankings are not so easily manipulated. Some of the changes include:

  • Relevance of the link from website A, to website B, i.e. Website A is a Beauty Therapist, and links to website B which offers skin care products.
  • Anchor text* in the link, and the relevance of that text associated with the website that the link is pointing to, as well as the page it derives from. *Anchor text is the text you view within a link, i.e. Web Design Sydney
  • The age of a link on a particular web page.
  • How many links are on a web page, as well as the age of the links weighed against the web page they are linked from.
  • The rate at which links appear or disappear from a web page over time.

One thing these changes prove, is that manipulating search engine rankings through unnatural or unethical methods will only cause websites to vanish very quickly like many websites in the most recent Jagger Update The latest Jagger Update continues to have components associated with aging delay, which cements the fact that SEO is no longer a short term solution, but one that will gain benefits over time (providing it is done properly).