Getting Ready for the Google Caffeine Update

Google Caffeine, Google's newest update, is well on its way to completion and partial activation on one or more data centers, claiming to bring increased speed, relevancy, and real-time into their search results.  SEO professionals world-wide are buzzing about when and where Caffeine will be released next, and on which data centers it has already been unleashed. Last August, Google revealed this up-and-coming project just in time for the unveiling of Bing, Microsoft's new and improved contribution to the world of search.  Then, in November, Google's Matt Cutts reported Caffeine would be released at one data center for testing in the near future, and at additional data centers "after the holidays".  SERoundtable.com recently listed six IP addresses where Google Caffeine has been seen (64.233.169.147, 64.233.169.105, 64.233.169.103, 64.233.169.104, 64.233.169.99, and 64.233.169.106) which reportedly operate in Texas, Colorado, and Indiana.  There is currently no definitive answer about the ETA for additional releases, despite much speculation among bloggers.  Some SEO professionals have noticed significant changes in their clients' rankings already while others noticed Google has been faster (or much slower) than normal.  In summary, everyone is standing by.

What can the SEO world and online advertisers expect from the forthcoming Google update?  In a word: speed.  Faster search results are one of the supposed earmarks of Google's latest update and the reason for its namesake.  Google is fast already, but results are reportedly going to be cut down to half the time (think 0.16 seconds instead of 0.32 seconds). 

If the user does not recognize faster results, perhaps they will notice more relevant results.  This is because Google Caffeine will be indexing more web catalog pages for single word brand or head terms than the current version of Google.  This change creates a challenge from an SEO perspective, since keyword phrases and terms will need to be closely monitored for drops in rank.  SEO managers should make sure they test their clients' rankings on the new caffeine data center and make the appropriate adjustments to keep rankings.

As mentioned in earlier posts (see What's New in Search for 2010), expect to see somewhat of a shift in natural rankings (perhaps around 15%), especially for those single keyword terms.  To help alleviate some growing pains, advertisers should also pay closer attention to what keyword terms are lacking, so they can tap into every available source of rankings, should other terms suffer.  On the flip side, there will probably be less competition for multi-keyword phrases, so marketers may have a better chance of getting a good amount of their product pages and deep-level pages indexed.  For the searcher, one can expect this heightened indexing should increase search relevancy and value, thanks to greater competition among marketers.

Will there be other changes?  When asked about the changes, Danny Shepherd, President of Titan Growth® added,  "According to our testing and research, Google Caffeine will display more universal, or 'blended' search listings due to its greater emphasis on indexing multimedia and networking sites than on the current version of Google.  This will allow users to see alternate types of results, as well as real-time results, and is especially appropriate as both Facebook and Twitter are releasing their own real-time search engines.  These blended results are not to be confused with Google's Social Search" (still in the experimental phase; see Google Social Search and You), "but rather add a multimedia and real-time edge to the typical search result page.  The way Google looks at links and anchor text links has also changed"

Bottom line: Google Caffeine will be faster, more relevant, and will give searchers a variety of result types to choose from…once it gets here.  The real hardship falls on SEO managers who must pay extra attention to their SEO strategy in order to maintain their hard-earned rankings.  It will be important for all companies who engage in SEO to make sure their SEO team is on top of these changes.  Companies that ignore updates may find themselves with lost rankings and revenue.  In the meantime, we will continue to watch and wait for additional signs of the launch.



Contributed by Amanda Finch, VP Operations

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