Anyone who knows me knows that I am mildly obsessed with coffee. I savor it, gulp it, glory in it. But really, it is all about the caffeine. Caffeine makes me feel alive. Caffeine makes me engaged. Caffeine makes my heart purr along at 600 beats per minute. Caffeine is essential.
Google shares my love for the caffeinated lifestyle. The company is obsessed with speed. It wants its servers chugging along like they've spent the afternoon with 400 of their favorite baristas. Google is ready to rock Caffeine, its new internal search architecture, which is set to roll out after the holidays.
What does Google Caffeine mean to marketers?
Fundamentally, it doesn't change your current search positions a lot. The essential algorithm that Google uses to determine which sites are relevant for particular terms won't change much in the near term. (But look out -- big changes are coming. You'll hear more on that before Christmas.)
In the near term, here are the nuances that are becoming evident:
Caffeine is all about indexing speed for Google. How many more pages can Google add to its index, and how quickly? Caffeine represents a significant change in Google's housekeeping. This is good for Google. It is speeding up the indexing because the web is exploding in its growth. (See "Here Comes The Flood" for more info on the whats, whys, and wheres of the explosions.)
Google needs to get faster so that it can keep up with the deluge of new information and links. The takeaway for marketers is that you can expect to see your newer pages show up in the index (but not necessarily well-ranked) sooner. Speed of indexation is good, but a bigger index means that you have even more work to do to keep yourself visible. You will likely have to do less work to become seen by Google, but more work to be visible to searchers.
Google has become really aggressive about filtering duplicate content. As it speeds the indexing, it needs to step up the filtering process to ensure that it doesn't have 6,500 versions of the same URL in the index. So, if you have duplicate content, or have pages that are "modestly unique," like two shirts that are the same except in color, you can be sure that Google will be more aggressive about filtering out one of those shirts. This can be a very disconcerting issue for marketers, especially retailers. Make sure that you are giving search engines every possible opportunity to find all of your URLs through HTML site maps, XML site maps, RSS feeds, Google product feeds, etc.
3. Content frequency
If this update is all about indexing and speed, then it makes sense that the marketer ought to adapt to an even faster-moving world. There are tons of ways to make your brand more visible when high frequency is essential. Try blogging, social media, contests, press releases, interviews, editorial content, opinion pieces, giveaways, customer profiles, and free advice (and I just came up with all of those in the last seven seconds -- thanks to caffeine!).
In so many respects, it doesn't matter what your industry is; it matters that you are active in it. Static websites that change once a quarter are so 2000. In 2010 it is about dynamic, content-driven information experiences. Frequent, thoughtful, value-added content will grow your opportunity (and your brand voice) in a way that is simply unimaginable in an uncaffeinated world.
4. Site speed
Google has come out and said it -- it is obsessed with speed. The faster something happens, the better. The same goes for your site. Speed matters. Matt Cutts, the uber-search guru at Google, has speculated that site speed will become part of the algorithm. If you are lagging, get on the phone with your hosting company, your IT guys, and maybe call a content delivery network to drive your site speed. It matters for customers and for search engines. Really. Seconds and milliseconds count. Don't be satisfied with "fast enough." Be satisfied with "fastest in my vertical."
5. Social media
This may sound like a tired refrain by now, but social media matters. It matters that you are active in it. It also matters that you allow visitors to your site to share what they find. Make it easy for visitors to share what they think about you with everyone they know. Easy fixes are ShareThis or AddThis (not an endorsement, just top of mind).
Make your site a spot where information is fluid with opportunities for visitors to interact with you and also share what they find with their sphere of influence. This matters because Google Caffeine was built to index this kind of dynamic content development and information sharing. If you aren't adapting to your ever-changing environment, then you will lose market share.
Caffeine is about speed. Speed is needed because the internet is growing at such an amazing rate that keeping up with it is an unimaginably complex task. The internet is a wildly growing information organism that is evolving rapidly. Speed is needed to keep up with the expansion. In order for you to stay ahead of the need for speed, take stock of where you stand on these issues. Are you fast enough? Do you share enough? Are you frequent enough? Are you unique enough?
Are you ready for a cuppa?
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