After Jagger, Are Reciprocal Links Dead?


Following some links (clearing out my spam bin actually) I ended up at this article on Web Stats Gold (a name that would put me off before I started, but I soldiered on). They start with the premise that ‘Jagger’, has caused loss of position on serps for a number of sites. So they decided to see what we could learn from an analysis of some test sites they owned, which are used mostly for research and testing in their primary business of Web Analytics.

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.

They then give a "mid term" report.

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.

and go on to look at Jagger and its effects

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 link structure.

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 ‘relevant’.

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.

They are now re-evaluating their linking strategy and are now concentrating only on building strong one-way inbound links. And they are focusing on publicity, articles, directories, and other direct methods of building image and consumer awareness.
This strategy, they say, may not be the fastest method of building links, but they feel it is rock solid and will make them search engine independent.

Perhaps this is what those nice people at Google have been trying to get us to do all along.


I've noticed a reduction in

I've noticed a reduction in directory link effectiveness since Jagger - IMO submitting to directories is no more solid that reciprocal linking - it's still blatant artifical link popularity manipulation.

OK, as with link exchanges (or rather, the generic "model" of two sites linking to each other), there are exceptions to the rule - there are good directories out there, just as there are reasons for two sites linking to each other (eg a news site running a story on a business, which in turn links back to highlight the buzz to their users).

Article and press release link building will be next for the chopping block - as with everything, people will just take the piss. There's already a load of made-for-Adsense "article" sites out there and it's no secret that a huge percentage of online press releases are link building efforts. It's not really all that unreasonable to assume it would be easy(ish) for Google to devalue all links appearing on a duplicated content page of a particular article. Where does that leave article and press release submissions?

I'd think, if anything, Google are looking for a failsafe way of determining how natural the links are to a particular website - assuming they are going to cling to the model of basing rankings on link popularity. Article and press release submissions certainly don't fall under that category.

IMHO, viral marketing, buzz marketing, social networking, etc are the way forward for link building and that brings the game to a whole new level, mainly because it's not something random_SEO_wannabe can do easily and Google knows it.

They start with the premise

They start with the premise that ‘Jagger’, has caused loss of position on serps for a number of sites.

IMO these guys started out with a flawed premise to begin with (Maybe cuz they wanted to sell their SEO stuff).

How can you possibly figure out the 'equation' if your only looking at half of it...

What about all those sites that GAINED rank?

How many SEM articles do you see that study the 'winners'?

To just ignore these sites that gained rank is rather stupid IMO, as they really have the answers on how to gain rank...

All studying the sites that lost ground can tell you, is what these sites did that google did not like (if your smart enough to figure it out). Soooo, if all you want to do is figure out what google does not want you to do, keep studying these sites that lost ground. On the other hand, if you want to gain rank, I know it pays to study and discuss the sites that 'gained'.

BTW - From what I see 'jagger' is not done cooking yet, so even if you disagree with me about studying losers, you're still a bit premature in trying to figure out what has happened cuz it is still happening...

One of many such discussions going on ...

WMW talking about similar things, and Danny at SEW throwing in his two cents also. He cites the natural, albeit slightly less one-to-one relationship between Threadwatch and SEW without, erm, actually linking.


Natural reciprocal links still count. Reciproced links appearing simultaneously in masses aren't earned naturally, and Google seems to devalue those like any other articifial or systematic link patterns. Google does not penalize reciprocal linkage at all IMO.


I reciprocal link like a maniac and I've also got guys doing it for me. Served me well in the past but this time I got whacked out of sight. Strange though, one of my major competitors has a full time team just on reciprocals, most of which are not themed and he's gained ground all over the place. Its not black and white.

>>>Its not black and white.

How true!

Three different and separate upgrades installed in a little under a months time. Each upgrade contained a multiple of changes and/or additions (hardware and software), with at least one MAJOR addition to algo.

I already see some 'trends' in the ranking process, but the googlites are getting sneaky and underhanded in combating what they consider to be Search Engine SPAM. ;-)

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