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Google Caffeine: What Does It Mean for Search and Your Web Site?

Search Engine Optimization is Dead!; Run for the Hills; Your SEO Campaign is F.U.B.A.R. once Google flips
its Caffeine switch and your top three ranking gets reshuffled to page 10.

Enough already! Search is not dead – actually, far from it. I am challenging
the naysayers who pooh-pooh SEO and claim that Google’s latest “under-the-hood”
tweaking of its algorithm, known as Caffeine, will destroy the progress SEOs
have made over the last few years getting optimized sites to rank well on
Google and other search engines.

I am a firm believer that Caffeine in fact is a good thing for
the evolution of SEO. Personally, I must have my daily jolt of caffeine to
function – so maybe the idea is that your Web site should do the same. Google’s
mission with Caffeine is to bring you, the user, faster, more accurate and more
productive results. Truth be told, the average user will not see much
difference between pre-Caffeine Google, and the new and “improved” version. The
full rollout of Caffeine isn’t expected to hit the internet until later this
year, but for a Web site owner to take the wait-and-see approach could result
in a situation similar to the feared “Google has flipped a switch” scenario,
and search rankings could drop. Now is the time to re-evaluate your Web site
and your targeted keywords and to make the necessary changes to make your Web site
compete for 2010 and beyond. It’s time for your Web site to be
caffeinated.

Key Points about Caffeine

  • Google’s main focus is speed and accuracy –
    faster results for users, which they believe will enhance the user’s experience.
  • Real-Time Search – integrating Twitter and
    Facebook posts into search results.
  • Latest News (another facet of Real-Time Search)
    will become an even bigger part of the search engine results pages (SERPs) and
    your Web site. Current and fresh content will increase in importance as a major
    factor to determine whether Google and/or Bing will reward your site with a
    competitive listing.
  • Page loading times will have an effect on both organic
    rankings and pay-per-click quality score.

Google has already become focused on the concept of Real-Time Search.
You may have recently noticed a (somewhat annoying) scrolling box in the middle
of the search results page displaying everything from the latest tweets, news
feeds, Yahoo! Answers, and Facebook posts. So if you time it right, for a least
a few seconds, your tweet and Web site link could be on top of Google’s results
page for searches from anything about Barack Obama to the NFL Playoffs. Is this
really effective? I am not sure yet, but reviews and data tests have shown that
this hasn’t been one of Google’s best additions to its results pages.

 

Everything You Know About
SEO is NOT Wrong

SEO’s best practices still matter, maybe even more than they did
before. To most people, SEO is just about keywords and links, when it should be
about creating the best possible Web site for your brand/product/service. Your
Web site is the connection between the user and what you have to offer. The
best aspect of Search Engine Optimization and Search Marketing as a whole is
that the user (customer) is out looking for YOU (Inbound Marketing), rather
than waiting for you to hit him over the head with a TV spot or ad campaign. It
is your job to create a Web site that is actively following the best SEO
standards – caffeinated or decaf, the same rules apply:

  • Content is still king – fresh and updated
    content shows your site is not only active, but relevant.
  • Proper keyword research and performance tracking
    is even more vital to your organic and paid search campaigns.
  • Web sites developed following the best Web
    standards and coded in HTML and CSS are preferred and need to be optimized for
    best performance.
  • Page titles and meta description tags still
    matter.
  • The most valuable links are high quality and
    relevant to the overall theme of your site, as links continue to be one of the
    most important factors in the algorithm. Also, like your stock portfolio, it is
    best to diversify.
  • Do not be tempted by “black hat” tactics for
    temporary boosts (this is much worse than Google flipping its switch).
  • Without proper research (keywords, competition,
    and knowing your target audience) your site will go nowhere.

What Should You Do Now?

Okay, you have a Web site. You’re proud of it. It’s probably
really beautiful (especially if it was designed by A&W). But have you ever discussed
SEO? Have you ever wondered how Google and other search engines view your site,
or how they display your listings? Well, now is as good a time as ever. Here
are some quick tips to ask your agency before the full roll out of Caffeine
hits:

  • What keywords
    is my Web site targeting and how are they performing today?
  • What do
    my analytics show?
    Request a breakdown of your strengths and weaknesses,
    keep a close eye on what is going well and ask your Webmaster what it is you
    can do to improve your Web site.
  • How can I
    get social?
    It used to be that SEO and social media should go hand-in-hand. Now, one can’t live without the other.
    SEO and social tactics will need to reevaluate each other’s best practices to
    find ways to enhance the Web site’s natural search results.
  • Am I
    vertical?
    If you haven’t already, get your Web site vertical. Optimize your
    videos, PDFs, articles, multimedia, etc. This could easily be what converts
    users to customers.
  • What else
    should I be doing?
    The core SEO fundamentals still hold true: fresh and valuable
    content, Web analytics, Web standards, usability and all the methods of getting
    your data to search engines. No matter what changes today, tomorrow or the next
    day, these values will always remain at the center of creating an optimized Web
    site.

Search is an industry that evolves faster than almost any area of
marketing, and a lot is about to take place this year. The full rollout of
Google’s Caffeine will take place throughout the year (slowly but surely),
right on the heels of the Bing/Yahoo! merger. And did I forget to mention
Mobile Search? These are all topics for another day.

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