Caffeine, Google’s most recent algorithm update has been in the works for some time, but is being rolled out over the first part of this year. The biggest change in the Caffeine algorithm is the increased importance of web site load time. Up until now, this has been a point of contention in the SEO community – some argued it was taken into account by search algorithms, while others argued it was not. With the unveiling of Caffeine, we finally have a definitive answer: sites that aren’t optimized to load fast and effectively will see a definite drop in their organic search rankings.
What type of sites are usually the slowest to load? Bingo, Flash sites. The thorn in the side of SEO’s for years. Even with Google’s latest spiders being able to crawl through Flash content, the rankings are on average much lower than non-Flash sites. After the Caffeine integration, page rankings for Flash sites will drop even further. Coincidentally, another device will be launched in the next month that has a beef with Flash – the iPad. I won’t be the one to say that Google and Apple have conspired to wipe Flash-heavy sites off the internet, but it definitely seems like a sign of the times to come, especially if the iPad is a huge commercial success as predicted. Of course, even Adobe has voiced its distaste of the overuse of flash and how it can detract from the user experience, as stated in the Flash Blog. http://theflashblog.com/?p=1698
But back to Caffeine, what other changes will we see?
An increased relevance will be given to quality outgoing links and having fresh, updated content. Google will be making a push to keep search rankings current and relevant by giving higher rankings to sites with targeted, up to date content and pertinent outgoing links. Actually, as a whole, it would seem that the caffeine update will primarily be affecting on-site SEO and not offsite SEO – good news to those who have spent countless hours building incoming links. Google is effectively using their algorithm to police the internet and banish slow or irrelevant sites to the back pages of search listings. And why not? I don’t know anyone who enjoys running a search and finding a three year old article pop up as the top result only to have to scroll through two pages to find a more current article.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of extra relevance was given to sites that were heavily linked by social networks. Google’s live feed, social circle search results, and the launch of Google Buzz all look like pretty clear indication that Google’s future looks to draw heavily from the spheres of social media.
As a final note, Google will also be rewriting their own indexing structure which will allow them to crawl sites faster and produce search results quicker. Hey, at least they aren’t hyprocrites.
Some tools for you…
Page Speed: http://code.google.com/speed/page-speed/index.html
Keyword Tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
And, for those who want to build more quality backlinks but don’t want to risk using link brokers, try Publishers Network who find quality blog sites in your sector and commission great articles for them on your behalf. They are the only ones I’ve found so far who do this properly.