Wednesday 12 Aug 2009
As you’ve likely heard, Caffeine is the name Google has given to some changes they are making under the hood.
Word has it that these changes relate chiefly to how Google indexes documents rather than the user interface. Speculation is rampant as to the potential effects of Caffeine, and Andy Beal has written an interesting piece which suggests that the new Google SERPs will be geared toward more real-time results than static ones.
What, I ask you, is more real time than Local? That’s a question I’ve asked, perhaps one too many times, in regards to the inaccuracy of outdated business information populating Google’s 10-pack. Putting that aside, however, the first question that sprang to my mind was whether Google Caffeine would have any effect on their Local results (their 10 pack, 3 pack, etc.)
The short answer is, it doesn’t look like it.
I used this very cool tool that lets you compare current Google SERPs to Caffeine SERPs and in running about 20 searches for popular local inquiries, I did not encounter any difference at all in the ordering of the 10 packs. None. Nada. See for yourself:
What I Did Notice
There is definitely jockeying around going on in the Organic/Universal SERPs. I saw things like Merchant Circle listings being knocked completely off the front page (a surprise as I’ve always thought they were one of Google’s most trusted sources…hmm). I saw less dramatic changes like sites like local.yahoo.com, Gayot, 10best, SuperPages and Yelp playing musical chairs, moving up and down amongst one another for no reason I was able to immediately fathom. Time and analysis may point the way in this regard. I also noticed minor differences in the suggested searches often shown at the bottom of Google’s SERPs and saw new News results appearing at the bottom of the SERPs in Caffeine when they weren’t appearing in the current Google results.
What Does It All Mean?
For Local, my guess is that Caffeine will not be a game changer and that the good advice holds true that you need to have a crawlable site with thorough content and get your business profile listed in every place you can think of. Maybe someone else is out there right now discovering some change in the Local results that I’ve overlooked. If so, I’d love to hear about it.
In the meantime, keep the content publication going strong, local business owners. I believe this is still going to be your very best strategy.