I've been playing around with the just-announced Google Caffeine sandbox (www2.sandbox.google.com - which is down for "system maintenance" at the moment), trying to discover any subtle differences I can find between it and the current live engine. There aren't many. A lot of people in the SEO realm have weighed in with their initial thoughts; I thought I'd add my own.
I stuck mostly to video-related queries, since that's what we talk about here at ReelSEO.com, and the verdict is... it's about the same.
Sticking with current video-related topics, I first chose to search "wedding dance video" on both the live version of Google and the new testing playground version. I went with current events and trends for my testing, because I figured those were the most likely queries to see significant movement in the rankings. First I searched "wedding dance," (referring, of course, to the JK Wedding Video hit) and here are the results from the live version of Google:
Live Google results for "wedding dance video":
And now the Caffeine results for the same query:
So, of the actual videos that appear in the first page results, all five are still there in the Caffeine version, though the ordering is slightly different. The biggest change is the ABC story about the JK Wedding Video that is in third on the live results but not even on the first page of the test engine results. Interesting.
I then tested a variety of other video-related searches, with largely the same outcome. The core results are the same, with some minor reordering. For example, a search for "michael Jackson” shows a few differences—most notably the universal search images halfway down the results on the live page, which aren't on the testing version at all.
Live Google results for "michael jackson":
Caffeine results for "michael jackson":
Overall... the same results.
Not surprising, really, when Google themselves have said that "most users won't notice a difference in search results.”
It's worth noting that, from my admittedly unscientific testing, the results with Caffeine do indeed look remarkably like the live results… just as Google claims (see Matt Cutts' FAQ). This update has been billed, after all, as more of an "under the hood" change than one that's likely to change the results much. It's more about how the nuts and bolts go together inside, and about the speed of results served, than, say, a major algorithmic change that dramatically alters your site's position.
It's obviously far too early for any substantial review of how the rankings might change, and there's still a ton of testing to be done. I look forward to reading the many opinions that are sure to come.
But video producers can probably rest easy; your ranks are probably going to stay the same.