Matt Cutts Banned On Google? And Oct. 2005 Jagger Update Winds Down

The Oct. 2005 Google Jagger update saga that has sucked the life out of so many (but not all; some are blissfully unimpacted by it) seems to be ending. Indeed, so says Google's Matt Cutts in his Jagger winding down post. But Matt, if the update is over and bugs worked out, why's your blog banned on Google?

Banned? Banned! Surely not you say. But Dave Naylor presents the evidence in Jagger3 hahahaha. Dave's generally pretty terse in his posts, but I speak Dave, so let me spell the situation out.

First, how do you know if you are banned on Google? For the unlucky few, you might get a message sent to you. But most mortals instead might notice a traffic drop, then start doing a Google health check to see if anything's wrong.

One key check is to search for your site on Google. If you get no matches, that's often a serious health warning. And so to Matt's blog with these searches on Google:

When I look, I'm getting nothing. In contrast, try these:

Notice how with them, you get the home page shown and options to see the cached home page, pages that link to the site and other options?

Now to be fair, Matt's not really banned. Yeah, I was getting your attention. But then again, if someone else did that search for their own site and got results, they might not know to do other things to reassure themselves. They'd think they were banned. Or imagine the person who entered just the domain name into Google (as many, many do). They'd get a rude surprise to learn Matt's site doesn't exist.

Let's look at why he's not really banned and but also the problems that the Google update have likely caused. First, we'll do the slightly different site: command for his blog:

Now we're getting pages found in Google. Why didn't we get them before? Honestly, I have no idea. I'll even check with Matt on it. But it's some type of screw-up within Google.

FYI, checking with Dave Naylor, he poked around and noticed this worked:

More reassuring, but notice that you can't get an option to see all the pages within the site, since that's an internal page and not something Google recognizes as a site.

Let's continue on with something else to test if Matt's banned. Is he ranking for anything, say perhaps his own name?

Yes he is! So he's clearly not banned. But wait, notice something else odd in the results:

Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO
A Google employee gives insight into goings at the firm, search engine index updates and SEO issues.
www.mattcutts.com/blog/ - 25k - 8 Nov 2005 - Cached - Similar pages

Matt Cutts
Matt Cutts. Personal Information 7 Research 7 Just For Fun. Old Well Image. Not really maintained by: Matt Cutts This site about entomology and insects ...
www.cs.unc.edu/˜cutts/ - 5k - Cached - Similar pages

Interview of Matt Cutts
Aaron Wall interviews Matt Cutts, who is a killer cool & hip software engineer who works at Google.
www.search-marketing.info/newsletter/articles/matt-cutts.htm - 46k - 8 Nov 2005 - Cached - Similar pages

www.mattcutts.com
Some fun stuff is here. You probably want this. Because, um, there's nothing else here right now.
mattcutts.com/ - 1k - Cached - Similar pages
[ More results from mattcutts.com

Look at the first and fourth results. I've put the domains of both in bold. Here's what they are:

  • www.mattcutts.com
  • mattcutts.com

That's a canonical error -- my favorite hated word and problem that I wrote about earlier. It's Google getting confused about which domain name to use for Matt's site. Rather than understand they are the same site, it currently thinks they are two different sites. OK, Matt's not helping Google out by doing a 301 permanent redirect of one of the domains to the other. But Google should still be smart enough to figure this out, especially since plenty of sites don't do this recommended tip.

Just another reason for what I said earlier -- it's overdue for search engines to let us register all our domain names directly with them and indicate the ones they should be using.

By the way, let's dive in on one more thing to do to figure out that Matt's really, really not banned. Look at his site with the Google Toolbar's PageRank meter on. His home page is a PR5, and his blog home page is a PR7. Banned sites typically have no PR reported at all, in addition to having no pages found. No pages listed but you have PR? You're almost certainly NOT banned.

Matt's blog also demonstrates something I've said in the past and was looking for a good recent example of as proof. Your home page isn't necessarily your highest PR page. Matt's blog page is an internal page, but it has more PR than his site home page. No surprise why. Far more people link to the blog home page that has content on it rather than the regular home page which really says nothing other than to go to the blog.

I also tried one other thing, that Google banned checking tool that I mentioned earlier. Verdict?

  • 1st Check.........
    "This site is not banned from Google"
  • 2nd Check (using a slightly different method).
    "Google again cannot see this website. Its probably banned if not a fresh site."

Ah, confusion. How much nicer if you could just use an official tool from Google and know if you were banned or not.

Back to the Jagger update, by saying winding down, that doesn't mean winding down on Google itself. Matt's post wrote that you'd find it in action if you went to the http://66.102.9.104/ data center. Over time -- the coming days -- changes will migrate to all the Google data centers.

Yes, I did check on the Jagger3 data center Matt noted in addition to regular Google. The problems with Matt's site are there. So while Jagger might be done, chances are Google's going to need to keep cooking the index further to bake out some of these domain name issues.

In some related notes, Barry at Search Engine Roundtable points to Update Saga. Part zillion over at WebmasterWorld, where people are wondering if the update has come to an end. It also notes that GoogleGuy has warned of a PageRank/backlink update to happen between now and the end of the year.

Thoughts on Jagger: Recips Got Hammered, Trust Trumps All from Andy Hagans at the Link Building Blog is a nice, short piece summing up what he things were the two major changes in the update.

First, reciprocal links don't see to work as well (What are they? Want to discuss? check out this SEW Forum thread: Reciprocal Linking Dead or Alive?). Second, sites with authority/TrustRank seem to do better (What's that? Check out Yahoo My Web: An eBay For Knowledge).

Want to discuss or comment? Visit our SEW Forum thread, Oct. 2005 Google Update "Jagger". C'mon by Matt -- tell us what's going on :)