In June 2010, Google announced the completion of the new web indexing system called Caffeine. Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than Google’s last index.
This is a major change to Google’s algorithm that caused a massive change in its results. This change shocked and frightened webmasters all over the world, as they watched their hard-earned rankings vanish overnight.
The Old Algorithm
Before you can fully understand exactly what the Google Caffeine update changed, you must first understand how the original algorithm worked. Google’s algorithm has always been highly complex and secretive, so the only way to understand it is through constant testing.
Originally, the algorithm depended on two main factors:
- Content factors
- Link factors
Content factors include the actual content of your site, along with all of the on-page SEO you do. It also has to do with your domain name and other optimization factors.
Link factors are very important, because they have always been a major factor in ranking. This includes inbound and outbound links, authority, PageRank, etc.
Google’s algorithm was never stationary. Every few months, Google changes their algorithm in order to make different factors more important than other factors. They do this to make it harder for people to learn the system and take advantage of that knowledge to spam the search engine.
Google Caffeine added a new factor to rankings. This new factor has quite a lot of weight, so it’s a very important factor. It really changes the game a lot, because it added factors that many websites do not even include.
- User activity
User activity includes things like traffic, comments, social bookmarks, RSS subscribers, etc. It also includes updates, so it has become more important than ever to update your sites regularly.
Social factors are extremely important now. Things like RSS subscribers and comments are very important, and not all websites even have these particular elements. Blogs got a big boost in the rankings, but static websites, especially those that had not been updated for a while, took a nosedive.
RSS subscribers obviously require you to have an RSS feed on your site. You should run your RSS through FeedBurner, because Google owns them and it seems to give sites a big boost if they have a lot of FeedBurner subscribers.
Comments are also very important. Google Caffeine gives a big boost to sites that have a lot of user activity via comments. This also helps build content on your site without you having to create it yourself.
These new factors make it a bit harder to game the system, but if you know how to use these new factors to your advantage, you can get your site to the top quickly and easily.
Update: Google Caffeine Loophole