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How the Google Caffeine Update Affects Small Business Websites

Google Caffeine UpdateGoogle™ recently updated its search engine index—the way it collects and stores data for retrieval—in a big way. Though Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm (i.e., a set of rules about how to deliver results), its newest update, “Caffeine,” is worth the interest of the small business website owner. Search engine experts have noticed that Caffeine results have been gradually showing up over the last month, and you may have already noticed a change in site traffic as a result.

Caffeine got its name because it finds and delivers results faster, as if it just had a few shots of espresso. Considering that Google is also showing more page results and discovering more relevant sites on the Internet, this is quite a feat. This update is also designed to retrieve more relevant search results for the end user and to find newsworthy (or “temporal”) results. Once Google finds these temporal results, it places them in its index faster.

How does the Caffeine algorithm update affect you? The results can be seen as both positive and negative, but overall it’s good news for people who take the time to make their websites search engine friendly. The algorithm values relevance and does a better job of associating keywords, so if you have descriptive content on your site, you may find that your rankings have improved.

The downside of the Caffeine update is that Google may be doing a better job finding pages on your competitors’ sites, and many of those pages may be considered to be more relevant than they were in the past. When you stop to consider that results on Google Caffeine test servers showed millions of extra search results for some queries, this means that you may have to work harder to stand out in the crowd. Additionally, an update that values “fresh” content may require a more active level of maintenance on behalf of the site owner. So making changes—or frequently contributing to an on-site blog—may be recommended.

What can you do to make your site more visible in light of Google’s Caffeine architecture changes? For starters, you can:

  • Update the content on your site to include common synonyms of what you sell or what services you provide.
  • If you serve a local area, make sure that your top cities, towns, suburbs, and communities are referenced on your most important site pages.
  • You may also want to invest in local or national search optimization initiatives that send more links to your site from other sources or that reference your site from phone directories and local resources.
  • Since Google still relies on links to determine the relative value of websites, make sure your site content is adequately referenced by other sources. Web.com even sells a website promotion package that will get you started.

Overall, the reaction to the rollout of the Caffeine update has been positive. Because the update prefers relevant results, small business owners are benefitting, and Google is getting better at showing local results for local searches. Therefore, websites that only service a limited area may have the advantage in their own neighborhoods. For sites that may have moved down a few spots over the past few weeks, this is the perfect time to spruce up site content with fresh and newsworthy information. Over time, you may not only reclaim your old results, but also jump ahead in the search engine rankings list.

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    1. It is a great tool for keeping things local, and for the small business to be able to be on the front page of the search engines is an opportunity to get found when there would probably have not been a chance. I think it is beneficial for many industries that thrive on location marketing.

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    2. Is the page load time playing a role in the Caffeine page rank algorithm?

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      • Google has stated that page load time is going to be a ranking factor. Google even has a feature (discussed here) that helps webmasters decrease load times. While the Caffeine improvements don’t specifically reference load time, they are getting integrated into the rest of the Google Algorithm, so a speedy site is recommended for search engine friendliness and a better user experience.

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