Earlier this week, Google formally announced the completion of its new web indexing system cleverly named Caffeine. According to Google, Caffeine provides 50% fresher results for web searches than its last index and is the largest collection of web content the search giant has ever offered.
Our old index had several layers, some of which were refreshed at a faster rate than others; the main layer would update every couple of weeks. To refresh a layer of the old index, we would analyze the entire web, which meant there was a significant delay between when we found a page and made it available to you.
With Caffeine, we analyze the web in small portions and update our search index on a continuous basis, globally. As we find new pages, or new information on existing pages, we can add these straight to the index. That means you can find fresher information than ever before—no matter when or where it was published.
– Carrie Grimes, Software Engineer, Google
This is great for those of us who use Google to search and find relevant results to our most common inquiries. Results will become timelier, more social and rely more heavily on keyword strings, ultimately providing more useful results as newer content can be indexed much quicker and from a much larger base of sites.
Is your SERP spot threatened?
When Google says “fresher” results, what they’re saying is that ranking principles have not changed, but rather rankings are (and will become) more dynamic, shifting to display the latest and greatest (and, therefore, hopefully best) information as a result of being able to reach deeper and more frequently into the Web.
But what about website owners who have come to rely on the steady ebb and flow of organic traffic that a high Search Engine Results Page (SERP) position provides?
Many website owners who have long enjoyed a top spot, or even a high spot, have suddenly found their sites displaced, resulting in a massive dip in organic traffic. And to make matters even more vexing, the position your site is in this month will likely be different from where you find yourself next month.
Which is not entirely new, right? Anyone well-versed in search engine optimization (SEO) knows that it is a never-ending battle. The difference is, ranking improvements and demotions may happen even quicker than before because content that you and your competitors are creating will have a more immediate impact within the results. So if you thought SEO was a wild ride before, hang on.
Of course, your main goal should be to deliver value to your customers and audience. After all, ranking is only a means to an end. And since Caffeine should do a better job of measuring that value, it might start putting some distance between those who do provide quality content and those who are merely gaming the system.
Caffeine makes it more difficult, although not impossible, for sites using black hat SEO tactics to reach and/or maintain a position at the top of the rankings for long periods of time. And while I believe SEOs will always find new ways to game the system, I think Google has made a step forward in terms of providing better-quality results.
How to get a boost from Caffeine
So if you can’t rule Google SERPs by just throwing up an automated page with repurposed content, what should you do? Here’s my advice to website owners who rely heavily on organic traffic:
- Continually look for opportunities to expand or update the content on your site for improved keyword targeting
- Re-evaluate your current keywords and always look for opportunities to expand and capture more long-tail keywords
- Build a site that contains clean code and a clear site structure
- Look for opportunities to capitalize on social media as real-time results become more integrated with search results
- Monitoring your competitors will be paramount as new content brought in by them will be indexed quicker than ever.
So fresh and so clean
I think this transition to providing “fresher” results was inevitable as competition from Bing and the massive growth of “real-time” information from social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have created a need for better, faster, (stronger), search engine results. And from a conversion standpoint, I’d argue that this move could ultimately prove to be more beneficial to ecommerce sites that provide high-quality content, because “fresher,” more relevant results also means more qualified traffic.
Of course, cleaner, less manipulated results will have huge benefits to searchers and real, quality sites alike. Remember that both you and Google are on the same mission: provide the right page to the right user. Oh, and don’t be evil.
Photo attribution: The Official Google Blog