Caffeine Update on the Horizon?

by Matthew Diehl on February 1, 2010

Google Caffeince Update Coming Soon

The Google Caffeine Update was first introduced subtlely to us back in August 2009 via this post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog where testing of some new search infrastructure was underway and being code named Caffeine.

After a short period of testing Google shutdown the Caffeine Sandbox Evironment and let everyone know that:

…Caffeine is ready for a larger audience. Soon we will activate Caffeine more widely, beginning with one data center.

Which was confirmed by Matt Cutts at November’s Webmaster World PubCon in this slideshow (see slide 30):

Also, released was the Google’s Caffeine Update would not go live on all data centers until after the holidays. For everyone this meant not until after the mega online shopping season surrounding the end of December holidays (Christmas, etc.). There were a few grumblings that Caffeine was live on a few more data centers in early January and even more data centers at the end of January but these turned out to not be anything related to Caffeine.

So, here we sit (February 1st 2010) well over a month since “the holidays” and still no official notice from Google that Caffeince has been pushed live to all data centers or a more concrete plan of when it will be pushed.

There has been much speculation and analysis on what the Caffeine update will mean for the search results. One thing that the update is surely intended to do is impact the speed in which Google serves the results by changing the underlying infrastructure but of course Google is always concerned with relevance. Built into the Caffeine update will be a number of ranking algorithm changes that will potential impact a number of sites out there.

During the Sandbox experiments many SEO experts began posting their thoughts on what Caffeine would change. Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com suggested it would:

  • an increased weighting on domain authority & some authoritative tag type pages ranking (like Technorati tag pages + Facebook tag pages), as well as pages on sites like Scribd ranking for some long tail queries based mostly on domain authority and sorta spammy on page text
  • perhaps slightly more weight on exact match domain names
  • perhaps a bit better understanding of related words / synonyms
  • tuning down some of the exposure for video & some universal search results

Vanessa Fox a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land also weighed in on the Caffeine Update but final concluded that

…but my guess is that it likely does what Google search does, but better. And the foundational elements of having a crawlable infrastructure and compelling content remain.

A broad spectrum of other primary SEO outlets have commented that the Google Caffeine update will also focus on a couple additional primary adjustments including:

  • Site speed, referring to the load time of your site being more important that it currently is
  • Social presence, referring to your site’s appearance in links on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc.

So, as the clock continues to tick on the “after the holidays” launch of the Google Caffeine update everyone still has their eye on the horizon looking for any glimmer that the update could be coming and praying that their site is not devastated by any algorithmic updates that come along with it.

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