Stephen Logan

Is Google Caffeine the SEO Killer?

11th Aug 2009 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

For so long industry types have mooted the next Google-killer, but today, with the announcement of the new and improved Google Caffeine project, the shoe appears to be firmly on the other foot. Rumours are abound that this could be the update that undermines SEO as it stands entirely; a completely new search logic that will require a completely different approach.

But putting conjecture and hearsay to one side for a moment, what is Google Caffeine really all about? Well, fundamentally its main purpose is to increase speed and improve results; nothing wrong with that at all. Relevancy and quality are also coming under the spotlight, particularly with news stories, with Google giving extra weighting to those sources it considers superior – not all that different to how it operates currently in truth.

But does this turbo-charged speed point towards the first steps of real-time search? Well, very possibly. Whilst Google have been playing around with Wave and some other interesting (non-search related) applications, the world around them has moved on.

Facebook is now integrating real-time search and will almost certainly continue to develop this aspect of the site with their acquisition of FriendFeed yesterday.

Yahoo and Microsoft have reached a major agreement to share resources in a bid to create a super-efficient search engine. Twitter have…well, Twitter is still Twitter, providing millions around the world with real-time breaking news and a communication platform to boot.

Google have always said that they find the idea of real-time ‘interesting’ but have never actively engaged in it, not up until now at least. But is Caffeine really going to change anything. Having named it after a drug that initially provides a burst of speed before instigating a major comedown; is this going to be a metaphor for how it will function? Can sites shoot to the top before nose-diving back down the rankings as other pages get indexed? Well let’s hope not.

This development can only be a good thing or an irrelevant thing, depending on how you use the Internet. If you’re doing huge volumes of search each and every day, the fractions of a second that you could be saving with Google and the relevancy of answers will be greatly beneficial. If you’re a casual user, I doubt you’d notice any major difference.

With Google slowly rolling this out you can already see slight changes in the speed with which pages load and search queries are answered. Will this have a huge impact on SEO? Very possibly. But will that impact be a negative one? Almost certainly not. If there’s a way to optimise a site, regardless of how far you move the goalposts, somebody will find it.

Rankings may fluctuate, but Caffeine should be celebrated as the first steps towards fully blown real-time search, rather than a harbinger of doom for websites and their SEO. Google still looks the same and, for the time being, it’s acting much the same too; watch this space though for more developments.

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