Will Google Caffeine Alter Google’s 10 Pack?

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 That’s a question I’ve asked, perhaps one too many times, in regards to the inaccuracy of outdated business information populating Google’s 10-pack.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:

caffeine comparison for local search

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.

14 Responses to “Will Google Caffeine Alter Google’s 10 Pack?”

  1. on 12 Aug 2009 at 8:41 pm Matthew Hunt

    Yeah I notice some of the things you have. I actually noticed an improvement on many of the new sites with Caffeine, so I’m excited. Changes are good.

  2. on 12 Aug 2009 at 8:57 pm John Chen

    There are definate changes to how Google’s algo is calculating the SERPs, even though Matt is strongly suggesting there is not.

    There is a better tool available to compare caffine / current Google results at http://www.goobinghoo.com

    The tool also lets you compare results side by side from bing and yahoo as well as caffine and google serps.

    The caffine index is also very differen, on some searches will return lots more results while others a lot less.

    As you mentioned Caffine is also displaying a lot more real-time results from Twitter etc.

  3. on 12 Aug 2009 at 9:21 pm Mike Ramsey

    One surprising thing to me is the difference in the number of results from keyword searches. Every one the searches I did (around 20) varied widely between the old vs caffeine. Also, if you saw merchant circle pretty much fall off the charts then that opens a new door! Maybe we will see content rich local sites really start to pass up big directory sites (merchant circle) in the organic listings. Then people could get the coveted top organic, top 10 pack and adwords listing on the front page! Sign me up and good bye organic hogs!

  4. on 12 Aug 2009 at 10:33 pm admin

    Agreed, Matt – change can be very good and the reception of Caffeine so far seems pretty positive.

  5. on 12 Aug 2009 at 10:35 pm admin

    Thanks for the heads up about the alternate tool, John. I’ve not seen that one before. Will check it out. Thanks for taking the time comment!


  6. on 12 Aug 2009 at 10:37 pm admin

    Greetings, Mike!

    Yes, MC was knocked off on several searches I did (not all). I’m thinking if Caffeine is going to be more real-time oriented, we may start seeing increased hyperlocal blogging results from sources Google comes to trust, and that would be all to the good, though it could be problematic for small local businesses without blogs. They could find their static pages slipping in the SERPs.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  7. on 13 Aug 2009 at 6:22 am Mike Ramsey

    It will definitely push local business owners to start making an online difference. But I am very ok with static brochure sites falling out of the rankings for local keywords. If a person is active with their business online, they really do deserve to rank higher, It just gives small businesses the opportunity to play big if they are willing to pay the price. I pretty much get all my clients to have a new/blog section now and drill them to keep it updated. Hopefully caffeine will give them an energy kick in the right direction. Great Blog by the way!

  8. on 13 Aug 2009 at 6:55 am David Mihm

    Was asking myself the question you just answered all day yesterday :D I wonder how Andrew’s recent study on IYP SEO will be affected by the update…

  9. on 13 Aug 2009 at 1:36 pm rheinz

    I think this will be a positive development for very active local sites, with a lot of real time optimization. Thanks for the comparison!

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  11. on 13 Aug 2009 at 9:41 pm admin

    Hi Mike,
    It sounds like you are having better luck with clients who are making time to blog than we have typically experienced. Mom and Pop are already so busy, it can really be hard for them to get into blogging, but like you, we strongly urge that they find a way. Good points.

  12. on 13 Aug 2009 at 9:42 pm admin

    Ah, good question, David. For the most part, I wasn’t seeing positions change more than a couple of places for the big IYPs and indexes, but it is still change. That could very well affect Andrew’s report.

  13. on 19 Aug 2009 at 2:05 am Weekly Search Roundup for 19/08/09

    […] Will Google Caffeine effect Google Local Listings – some thoughts and comparisons […]

  14. on 11 Sep 2009 at 9:50 pm Altec Design

    Thanks for the article on caffeine, we have definitely noticed the increase in blog’s and other “real time” sites showing up much better.

    Another thing that we have noticed with Google caffeine is that there seems to be added weight on domain name age. It seems that older domain names are getting much more credit which is somewhat logical because that is very hard to manipulate. It also ties in with the fact that Google recently became a domain name registrar company so that they can get to the added level of information that is afforded domain name registry’s.

    Nice blog by the way.

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