Caffeine update and what it means for SEO

  • 1
  • August 11, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Google has today announced some major infrastructure changes to improve indexing capability, speed and accuracy of the search results. Unlike other updates which suddenly appear without warning Google has provided a preview of the new search results at The results are for the US but you can add &gl=uk to the end of the query string to get UK specific results.

From the announcement:

For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search. It’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.

It’s important to note that this is a rewriting of the core infrastructure and not an algorithm change intended to alter the rankings. Having said that it’s highly likely that some rankings will change as a result of factors such as:

  • Google indexing more pages & therefore more links
  • The ability to add more factors into the authority algorithm in the future
  • Faster re-indexing of pages

This final factor is probably based on the speed of re-spidering old pages rather than indexing new pages – Google is pretty fast at that already. There will probably be some improvements in the few minutes it takes from hitting publish on a new article to that article actually ranking as well as hopefully some better real time PageRank calculations rather than the current reliance on authority and freshness for breaking news stories.

Thanks to the current instability of the search results in Google there seems to be little point testing the new system because you will get different rankings every few hours.

Also extra features such as query deserves freshness have not been layered on to the new system yet so you won’t see any breaking news stories given the same boost as in the normal Google (try searching for some celebrity names to see this in action).

Most people are reporting very similar results although a few brand sites are not doing quite as well as after the brand update and price comparison portals in the finance/insurance industry seem to be doing quite well.