If the current indications are correct we may be looking
at the end of reciprocal linking as a method of building
rank and link popularity, at least as far as Google is
The latest 'Google
Dance', nicknamed 'Jagger', has caused major concern
by those suffering loss of position on the top ranks of
the search engine's listings. So we decided to take a
close look at what is happening and see what we could
We have a few
small websites that have a limited number of links.
These sites are used mostly for research and testing of
our primary business in Web Analytics. By analyzing these
sites, we were able to quickly get an idea of what is
happening in Google's Jagger Update, which is still in
progress at the time of this writing.
By using our web
analytics tools, we were able to look at the history
of visits by the bots and the links to these small sites.
We had to go back as far as January in order to build
a picture of Google's actions. Our software also allows
us to look at all links from the SEs, not just those shown
by using the browser's 'link:' command. G only reports
some of the links to your site, not all.
Here is what
we have seen:
Like many other sites,
we noticed a sharp drop in rank in our test sites around
the first of July. They lost about 40% of their previous
link popularity and moved down sharply in rank. Also,
duplicate links on a single site disappeared. We now only
showed one link from each linking site.
As Jagger started,
unlike many others we have seen complain about G's actions
and timing, our sites stayed rather stable. Evidently
they had already suffered their major losses. However,
there was a small increase in the number of links. This
caught our attention. We had expected that, like many
others, we would experience further disruptions to our
But when we examined
these links, we were surprised to see that not one
of them had been listed with Google a few weeks earlier.
Not one. Our research showed that these links had been
live in G's archive, but none had shown up publicly before
now. It appeared that there was some sort of 'aging' process
taking place, but this may just be coincidental. It is
more likely that older links disappeared because the host
site was lost in the shuffle and our links no longer appeared
The other thing
we noticed was that not one of these new links was
listed on our reciprocal links pages. In other words,
all reciprocal links had vanished. We think that this
is because G 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.
If your web sites
have suffered from the latest 'dance', you may want to
take a look at the type and source of your links. If they
are mostly from link exchanges, you are probably looking
at the reason for your move down the list on the search
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.
has us now re-evaluating our linking strategy. We urge
others to do the same.
We are now concentrating
only on building strong one-way inbound links. We are
focusing on publicity, articles, directories, and other
direct methods of building our image and consumer awareness.
we are also looking for associated but non competing firms
like web developers, Search Engine Marketers, SEOs, web
site owners and designers to partner with us to build
direct business relationships and the resulting inbound
links. This strategy may not be the fastest method of
building links, but we feel it is rock solid and within
the spirit of good business practices. The best thing
is that it is search engine independent.
We will no longer
worry about chasing (or beating) the search engines and
their ever changing algorithms. That is a fool's game
we are sure to lose.
Instead, we will
focus on building rock solid links and popularity
with the group that counts: our customers. By focusing
on beating our competition and providing a top quality
product, plenty of educational information and relevant
content, we are sure to move up and stay at the top of
the search engine rankings.
to think about.