Launched earlier in the week, the new Google caffeine update is causing quite a stir in the search community. And whilst it is said to be the largest update since their Big Daddy change in 2005, is the impact to search rankings a strong espresso or more like a decaf? I’d say it is probably in between.
After some initial poking around of the new index at http://www2.sandbox.google.com/, I do believe at this stage there is a notable impact to search rankings but for most it will not require a search strategy overhaul……. at this stage.
In an interview with Matt Cutts, it was revealed that the underlying purpose for the Google caffeine update is to provide Google with the ability to speed up indexing to create an even larger index of content. Is this Google’s first step towards improving real time search results? The answer in my mind is yes. With the era of content upon us, and the increasing importance of sites like Twitter to break news, Google realises that their existing index was not cutting the mustard. So whilst the purpose of the new architecture is not set to overhaul the algorithm and significantly change how the engine determines relevance, it may be the platform to do so in the future.
Like many others I have spent a few hours comparing the results and have noticed several trends;
1. Prominence of news; Whilst Google news has held prominence since universal search was introduced, it seems that other news sites are definitely favored more heavily in the recent update. This was particularly the case when I searched on the latest topical issues – with some results from the new index delivering 7 / 10 listing from major newspapers versus 5 / 10 in the old index.
2. Universal Search Results; From the searches I conducted it seems that Google images and often videos have either dropped out of the top 10 search results, or moved down in the rankings.
3. Local Search Results; There definitely seems to be some changes within local search results. I conducted several tests, all demonstrating differences in the rankings. Perhaps however the most significant change was for the test I ran for “online marketing agency melbourne” which ranked 4 new sites in the top 10 results. The below screen shots demonstrate changes to the first 6 results on the first page.
4. Social Media Prominence; The other major change noticed by several other leading SEO’s is related to the improved ranking of social media pages such as branded Facebook profile pages.
Should you panic? At this stage Google caffeine is still in beta, available for developers and super users to provide feedback. Thus before you go out and change your search strategy be aware that Google may tweak it before final launch. In addition over the coming weeks expect many SEOs to throw their hat into the arena, which will shed a lot more light on the subject and will provide you with knowledge to determine how to react to the changes.
Have a look for yourself
For those wishing to check out the new engine visit, http://www2.sandbox.google.com/. I would be interested to see what others think about the potential impact.