Has the Google Jagger update broken the backs of black-hat practitioners? Probably not but when the support structures fail and the roof comes caving in it’s vaguely understandable to think for a short moment that the sky must be falling on them. That’s the impression I got reading blog entries and search marketing forums over the past few weeks. Google’s recent algorithm update appears to have shaken a few trees and made a number of people who profess to practice what has been termed “black-hat” techniques sort of nervous.

Since Google introduced its latest three-part Jagger update in early October, there has been a good deal of hand wringing and second-guessing from the “black-hat” side of the SEM spectrum. A sudden loss of ranking translated into a sudden dip in revenues. The Jagger update appears to have targeted search marketing tactics that were based on exploiting blogs, link networks and Google’s AdWords distribution program, AdSense.

For the most part, sites that use basic, common sense SEO and conservative, relevant linking policies have fared well though some took a deep dive in the earlier portions of the update. In some cases, time and experience has taught that clean SEO works best and in others, the impact of the Jagger update seems to be scaring them straight.

The final phase of the update is now likely complete and listings are again changing at Google. A reference site many are using to see how results are expected to shake out after Jagger is fully finished can be at

In the meantime, here are a few references for your reading enjoyment.

“A Whiter Shade of Black” by Gord Hotchkiss – Search Engine Guide (Nov 14)
Black Hats Going White?” by Danny Sullivan – Search Engine Watch Blog (Nov 11)
“Is SEO Getting More Gray” discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums