This article tries to gain insight into the impact of Google Caffeine on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and why SEO firms and businesses alike should be worried.
Google Caffeine was launched in June this year and promised to give fresher, faster and more relevant results. Has it delivered? I would say, Yes. The results are definitely fresher, faster and more relevant. In my opinion, the user of organic search has already achieved what Google promised they would deliver. Next question, has it impacted the SEO the way it used to be? Or simply, should website owners, bloggers etc be worried? The answer to this would depend on which side of the fence you were in the pre-caffeine days. If you were a big company sustaining your position simply because of the branding and without updating your content, you should be worried. If you were a dark horse trying to get your fifteen kilobytes of fame amidst behemoths on the web space, you can rejoice. Similarly if you were up there because you could outsmart the spider, you can think again, your days on the first few pages are numbered. On the other hand if you were straight and following the guidelines you can expect yourself to move up.
So what has Caffeine got which Google did not have earlier? Well, Caffeine along with Mayday, an algorithm update from Google is going faster, deeper, wider and local.
With the earlier index Google would update each layer of the multi-layered index every few weeks and that would be done only after analysis of the entire web. As a result if you happened to reach the top of the search result page for a particular search query, you could expect to remain there for some time. Not only that webmasters would insert harvested or farmed links on their websites and wait for them to be discovered by Google, thereby getting temporary reprieve from being penalised. With Caffeine, Google has changed the way it updated the index. Google is now analysing the web in much smaller portions and updating the index on a much faster scale adding web pages as and when they are found. They are getting closer to what is called the Real Time Search. So webmasters can no longer afford to be complacent and need to keep tabs on when and where the pages are figuring in the search results. In the same vein, malpractices for achieving higher rankings are going to be discovered and penalised much faster.
Earlier a lot of importance was being given to the root domain of the website and that same authority was being passed down to internal pages of the website. As a result a big brand name website which was already getting a lot of traffic due to its brand, would continue to enjoy the benefits of that traffic for its internal pages. As a result the internal page of this website which did not have any quality or was never updated would rank above an information heavy, frequently updated, high quality page of a website with lesser traffic. Mayday changed that. With Mayday Google started seeing individual pages for quality and content. Therefore it is no longer sufficient to apply SEO guidelines to first few levels of a website, all the pages need to be optimized for search, all the pages need backlinks, comments etc. It is obvious that Google would continue to decide ranking of a website based on the combined PageRank of all the pages of the website. The deeper pages, if not optimized, will therefore pull down the overall ranking of the website.
The big businesses therefore cannot survive on the web if they do not update and refresh the content on their pages deeper in the site. This is a logistical nightmare for SEO since updating content on all the pages of a big website is not easy. Similarly there were e-commerce websites thriving on their brand name and not having to update or make quality pages for their products. Again this is good news for the customer but a lot of hard work for the company. Smaller websites and Internet savvy companies on the other hand will find it much easier to update and refresh their content while maintaining quality of the pages and hence would find the field leveling down vis-à-vis big brands.
With Caffeine Google has started scouring the web as never before, they are now looking at images, videos, comments and social media for fresh content and updates. Needless to say that if you do not have social media presence you are losing out big time. If you are not managing the reputation of your brand online, the negativity of one comment would probably explode and sink your brand. Social media cannot be ignored any longer and the big boys had better realize it fast. It is a well known fact that a prospective customer gives far more importance to the feedback from a user than any marketing copy developed by the company. The social media is increasingly gaining momentum as the feedback mechanism for consumer products and businesses not employing Social Media Management will get affected in the near future.
It has been traditionally difficult for smaller businesses to compete with cash rich big businesses in boosting their search ranking for search queries comprising of one or two words plus there is a lot of competition to attain higher search rankings for these keywords. In addition as the information and hence the number of pages on the web continue to grow more and more users are understanding the advantages of using long-tail search queries, meaning, a search expression with more than two words. Users want specific results and Google has realized it. So now both Google and the users are concentrating on long-tail keywords to get and provide, respectively, local results. An optimized website, no matter how small, can now hope to appear higher in searches when users are looking for local providers of products, services or information.
What Does All This Mean
A faster, deeper, wider and local indexing of the web is going to have a significant effect on the rankings of websites. Websites knowingly employing Black Hat SEO techniques are going to get caught and hammered by Google much faster. Websites not having social media presence may find it difficult to build or sustain their online reputation. Websites not updating their content in the deeper pages cannot get away with it solely because of their brand name. Smaller businesses have a much more level playing field online. Keeping up with the challenges thrown by Google Caffeine is going to be a lot more difficult in the future and the importance of on-page factors has suddenly shot up. SEO firms do realize this and the fact, that what could be achieved easily with a few tweaks here and there earlier, is going to take much more hard work, effort and passion. This is what is giving them nightmares.
It is time to wake up and stop ignoring Search Engine Optimization, Corporate Blogging and Social Media
About The Author
Varinder Taprial is an independent consultant on Search Engine Optimization, Corporate Blogging and Social Media management. He can be contacted at email@example.com