Wildcard Friday – Google Caffeine, What is it and How Does it Work?

By Joe


My name is Scott, an SEO Analyst at Exclusive Concepts, and today’s Wildcard Friday topic will discuss Google Caffeine. Over the next several minutes, I will talk about what Caffeine is, the changes Caffeine brings to Google searches, and finally some key takeaways for you as a website owner.

This week, Google announced that it has fully rolled out a new update to it’s index, appropriately titled “Caffeine”. Caffeine is fifty percent faster than Google’s previous index, and was created to meet the demand of users expecting fresher and more up-to-date content when they search the web. Shortly after the official announcement of Caffeine going live, Google stated, “Searchers want to find the latest relevant content and publishers expect to be found the instant they publish. To keep up with the evolution of the web and to meet rising user expectations, we’ve built Caffeine.” So how is this Caffeine update useful to users?

Using an example of two unfortunate events that have happened to the US in recent years, I will try to illustrate the benefit of Caffeine to Google searches. Thinking back to the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there was extremely high search demand following the horrific attacks to find the latest news on the events that occurred. Only being a few years old, Google was unable to meet the demand of providing fresh updates and real-time content. In addition, Google News didn’t even exist at the time, so users had to flock to CNN to get the latest news covering the event.

Fast forwarding to today, America is facing another crisis with the BP oil spill that happened six weeks ago in the Gulf Coast. Like 9/11, there is extremely high search demand for the latest coverage of events happening in the Gulf, but this time, Google is ready for the demand.

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Looking at this screenshot from June 9th, you’ll notice that the top of the results shows news coverage from Google News. Below the news you’ll notice real-time updates of people mentioning the spill on Twitter. Below the these Twitter updates are the actual webpage results. Looking closely, you can see that the first result displays June 9th, meaning this page was published and indexed the same exact day I entered this search! The 3rd search result shows an update from a few days prior. Thanks to Caffeine, users can now expect their search queries to contain real-time results like in this example.

The following image is a great illustration of the difference between the old index and Caffeine.

The old index was comprised of several layers of web content that Google would index at varying rates. The top layer was usually more popular, consisting of more inbound links, and the Google spiders would crawl these pages on a more constant basis. The lower layers on the other hand, would be crawled on a slower basis because they weren’t as popular. Google would have to crawl the entire web before showing updated content in the index, so it took a much longer for fresh content to reach the index.

However, with examples of high search demand for events like 9/11 and the 2000 presidential election results, it was evident to Google that fresh content had to reach users much faster. As a result, Google Caffeine was born, which operates differently from the old index in that it analyzes pages in smaller portions and updates the index on a continual basis. This leads to fresher content being displayed when people enter searches on Google.

You’re probably thinking, “What does all of this mean to me?” Well, as a Google user, it means that you will see much fresher content displayed in your search queries, so you can expect almost real-time results when you browse the web. As a site owner, it means once you publish new content and your page is crawled, you can expect it to appear almost immediately in the search index.

It is important to point out that Google Caffeine is an indexing update and NOT an algorithmic update, like Google’s May Day Update that we mentioned earlier in the week. This means that we haven’t seen any shifts in ranking trends specifically related to Caffeine’s index update outside of breaking news and popular events. With the May Day and Caffeine updates being officially confirmed closely together, we’ll continue to monitor any widespread changes noted before recommending tactics outside of current SEO best practices.

By now, I hope you have a basic understanding of what Google Caffeine is and how it works. Although there are no additional actions you need to take as a site owner to be optimized for Google’s new index, you will still want to make sure your site contains fresh and unique content for search engines. If you are unsure of whether your site has enough unique content or would like to update your site with fresh content, please consider Advanced SEO Copywriting from Exclusive Concepts which will make sure you have compelling and unique content that is optimized for your targeted keywords!

To take the first step in this process, please contact us for a free Advanced SEO Audit where we will analyze all of the components of your site including content, and will also outline any other “weakness” areas that can lead to potential growth opportunities for your online business! The right research gives our SEO experts at Exclusive Concepts’ the information we need to help our clients achieve higher search rankings, so please give us a call at 800-504-4324 to request your free audit today.

Thanks for watching this week’s edition of Wildcard Friday and we hope you’ve found it helpful for your business. Have a great weekend and tune in Monday for another installment of SEO Monday!