Google About To Roll Out Caffeine – How Will It Affect Video Results?

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Google is getting ready to roll out their new Caffeine index to the entire world.  You might remember this past summer, when we told you about Caffeine being tested.

The word is that the new “way of indexing the web” will be unleashed sometime soon after the New Year—though some are claiming to see it in action already.

What exactly is Caffeine, you ask?  Fair question.  In various articles and public comments I’ve seen it called “a new index,” “a new way of indexing the web,” and “a new way of presenting search results.”  It’s probably best described as an algorithmic change that aims to focus on more real time search results, incorporating things like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

The general consensus seems to be that the average Google user won’t notice much difference at all, and I’m sure that’s true.  But you and I aren’t average Google users, are we? We tend to perform more searches and scrutinize the results, all in the name of helping our content become more visible to the intended audience.

What you really want to know is how this will affect your SEO efforts for video content, and I think we video marketers have some reason for optimism.  Summit Media, an SEO firm in the UK, did some extensive surveying and testing earlier in the year and arrived at some interesting—though speculative—conclusions.

First, they suggest that fresher content will begin to receive more prominent placement in the search results.  This means news, blogs, photos, Twitter posts, and yes… videos… will begin to subtly play a more important role in the information presented to searchers.

As a more general-rule extension of that:  sites with older content are more likely to see dips or drops in their rankings, with more weight being given to sources seen as current.

Second, generic terms are much more likely to see these “more real time” results than those queries known as “long tail.”  The reason is that more and more search users are adding words to their queries—the average Google user has learned that long tail phrases typically bring significantly more accurate results.  Those using “generic” search terms or phrases are seen to be more unsure of what they’re looking for, and will therefore receive a greater percentage of these real time results to provide them a greater cross-section to choose from.

Third, Summit suggests that the average website won’t see much change in their rankings at all.  A given website’s rankings might fluctuate a tiny amount, but overall rankings should hold pretty steady.

Finally, the entire search experience is likely to be a bit faster.  Again, this is not something the average Google user will even notice—we’re talking about minuscule percentages of a second here—but those power users who spend a lot of time searching each day are probably going to see things as being a bit peppier.  Caffeine appears to be as much about speed as anything else.

So what does all that mean for video SEO?  Well, video is clearly seen by Google as an important part of the “real time” stream—we’ve seen a steady increase in video visibility in search results for some time now, and that’s likely to continue moving forward.  Considering Caffeine’s focus on news and real-time information, video is going to be more important than ever, especially for generic searches.

It might be wise to start thinking about focusing your video SEO efforts on those generic terms for tags and keyword purposes, though you obviously shouldn’t abandon long tail efforts completely.  While Caffeine might pose a challenge to some old guard informational sites that rarely change their content, for those of us in the video space, the new Google should be examined, explored, and embraced.


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