Just a little over a month ago, Google announced its new search index: Caffeine. For those who have yet to do their homework on the announcement, the first thing to know about Caffeine is that it is not a rankings algorithm update; rather it is a new indexing system. According to the Google blog,
“Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered. Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before.”
So, essentially the information collecting is the same, but speed with which Google uses that information (bringing it to the SERPs) has increased dramatically. I4U News wanted to test the indexing to see just how fast it was. In a post about the Caffeine update, the made-up word ‘Cyberreblaus’, was included in the post’s title, “Google Caffeine Index launched, How fast ca it Index this Cyberreblaus?”
The results? According to post author, Luigi Lugmayr,
“It took over a minute before this page was searchable with the term ‘Cyberreblaus’. Twitter had indexed the story faster than Google, but of course Twitter just has to deal with the short title. From an end user perspective the Caffeine is still not the real time web, but close enough.”
Underline it, highlight it in your favorite color, and draw three stars around it – ** *fresh content is more important than ever!*** In a world of real-time results brought to Internet users from Facebook, Twitter, etc., Google has to pay attention to providing most up to date results, especially if they want to stay atop the two social media giants. In the past couple of days, I’ve noticed a few examples of how Facebook and Twitter are challenging Google’s lead.
It started when I was looking for someone on Facebook and the website’s search function provided me with Bing results for a non-Facebook related article on that person. It was a news article from a local paper and I clicked on it straight from the Facebook results page and went to the paper’s website. This was interesting to me as I am on Facebook all the time and if I could start searching from my profile page for non-Facebook related pages, I’d have no reason to visit Google (except for Gmail). I don’t really anticipate that this will happen in the near future, but if the quality and capacity of Facebook’s search results ever came close to Google’s – Checkmate, Google’s game would be over.
The second incident was when I wanted to know who won the World Cup, I turned to Twitter for the most up to date information. Now, I know Google incorporates real-time results with headlines and twitter feeds, but you can’t always rely on them being there and I sometimes have to weed through old news in order to get what I want. When it comes to breaking news, I generally check Twitter first.
Still not convinced? Just this weekend I saw a commercial for matchmaking site (I really don’t remember if it was eHarmony, or one of the other ones but we’ll just say that it was), and instead of directing the viewers to eHarmony.com, the commercial directed viewers to Facebook.com/eHarmony. They actually wanted people to go to their Facebook page, instead of their homepage. If that commercial is not a testament to the rising influence of Facebook, then I’m not really sure what is.
My point to all of this: The Caffeine update really seems to be a move for Google to help keep its reign as the leading search engine, which is why fresh content is more important than ever.
Ok, now what about Caffeine and your rankings?
We kept a close eye on our clients’ rankings before and after the update to measure the impact of Caffeine. We found that many of our e-commerce clients benefited from the update, while other rankings seemed to have sunk a bit. One reason for this might be that e-commerce sites are regularly updated. Sales, new products, and promotions force e-commerce owners to pay more attention to their sites’ content, while a non e-commerce site could sit for months or even years without an update.
Here are a few things to pay attention to in light of Caffeine:
- Sitemaps – As Google more frequently indexes information, make sure you’re updating and resubmitting your sitemap. For en e-commerce client who regularly adds products to their site, I like to generate a map 2x a month.
- New Content – I can’t stress this point enough. The more unique, fresh, and relevant content you have on your site, the better you’re going to perform in search. Managing a website is not easy. If you want to be an authority on a topic or product, and thereby rank better, you have to prove your worth with great content. There is no such thing as setting up a site and sitting back while the rewards roll in.
- More Activity: Not only will you need to generate more content on your website, but in order to succeed in the world of Caffeine, you’ll need to be active on the real-time sites as well, which means Twitter, Facebook, etc.
This last point leads me to think that Caffeine could actually make some larger splashes on the SEM industry as a whole. Not too long ago, a client asked me about some new content ideas for her website. As I thought about the SEO reasons for implementing the ideas, Caffeine was on my mind and the need to incorporate these new ideas into our social network sites. Now, normally there is not much overlap between our SEO clients and Social Media. We don’t manage social media for most of our SEO clients but I can’t help but wonder how the two can really excel without one another. Some firms do both SEO and Social, but for the most part there are SEM Firms, which typically include SEO and PPC and there are Social Media firms. I can’t help but think that Caffeine will somehow change that.
For those who outsource your SEO and Social Media efforts – would you rather one firm manage both, or are there perks to keeping the two separate?