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The Shipwire Blog/Google Caffeine, it's time to get fresh

Google Caffeine, it's time to get fresh

Last week the super search brains at Google pushed out a new version of their industry leading search engine. Nicknamed “Caffeine”, the rational for it was that content is exploding with the advent of the real-time web (Twitter, microblogging, video and location based services to name a few). Google’s old engine reindexed the web every few weeks; but, it wasn’t fast enough. So they jacked up the Caffeine load and sent it spinning on its merry way. I for one was a bit nervous about this release for Shipwire’s SEO and did test it in the test Sandbox a few months ago. I think results may actually be better for us with it’s release; but, only time will tell. You can bet we’ll be trying to get as many inbound links as possible over the next few months.

If you know anything about SEO, read this and spend a minute commenting on this post and tell online retailers how to stay current and quickly post fresh content.

What does this mean for the small business online retailers? Candidly, I’m not entirely sure; but, I’m willing to take a few guesses. As with all things SEO the impact will be felt depending on your level of SEO intelligence and your website’s capabilities. The big change to the search algorithms has everything to do with Google being able to index new content faster and faster and make sense of the proliferation of content being generated by micro-blogging and shortened links. I ask myself almost daily, what is the value of this twitter feed that flows like a river. Do I pay attention to any of it other than which is directed @shipwire? Some people I’m sure manage their RSS or Twitter feeds much better than me, so it looks more like a babbling brook (bad analogy on purpose) and less like a unfiltered river of nonsense.   If I’m wondering of the value, think about Google, they need to find value in this real-time web data, make sense of it and provide it to searchers. When an idea or webpage “goes viral” Google can’t wait two weeks to give it relevance; they want to give it relevance much sooner.

Retailers, its time to get fresh. What this means is that fresh content is going to mean more and more. So, blogging and micro-blogging will likely become more and more important to keeping your website fresh. For some retailers that are constantly updating their product catalog, then they may be at an advantage. If your product catalog doesn’t turn over much or you don’t update any pages of your website with much frequency; then perhaps it’s time to look for simple ways to do that. If you really like all that free organic search traffic from the great Google water-hose, then it’s time to think of fast ways to get fresh. Here are some thoughts.

  • Product videos: Google owns YouTube, you can bet that it will be indexing the bazillions of new user generated videos pretty often. Even if your product videos are utter crud; probably good to get them up there. One of my favorite e-commerce bloggers is John over at ColderICE (Internet Commerce Education). He has a hilarious story of getting over 100K views on a video about folding a bandana. The video is pretty bad; and he still got 100K views. That to me is fantastic and proves the point that you need to be on the interwebs like YouTube
  • Blog your deals. Blogging is easy and keeps your website fresh. put your blog in a subdirectory ( of your website not a subdomain (not to increase relevance. Don’t have time to blog with a traditional blog like Google Blogger, WordPress or TypePad, then set up a Tumbler account and just e-mail some content in once in a while. Generate fresh content and link to your own products to keep them “fresh”
  • Tweet already. Set up a twitter account and just tweet your deals or your favorite website links. Even if you don’t have followers, you can bet that Google is indexing Twitter more and more now that they spent something like $25M to get access to the Twitter post stream.
  • Forums and community sites. Find a few forums that discuss your product vertical, or put up a forum on your website. In Internet years these may seem pretty old school; but, the Google release on Caffeine specifically mentioned forum content as something that is fresh, relevant and they want to index faster. Before you go nuts in a forum though learn the etiquette of the community and just respond to a few recent forum posts. Don’t embed lots of links in it; just give yourself a respectable link or two in your signature if the forum allows it.
  • Photos. Not sure about this one; but, I’m betting that if Google is indexing video then they will likely be trying to also index all the public photos on locations like Picassa (Google owned) or Flicker. Maybe your products could use their own photo album with lots of links to your site? I know that I for one do search for Images in Google about 5% of my searches. (Where do you think all our snappy blog images come from).

Geek out on Caffeine. The Google team put out some metrics on what Caffeine will index. It’s pretty impressive. “Caffeine lets us index web pages on an enormous scale. In fact, every second Caffeine processes hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel. If this were a pile of paper it would grow three miles taller every second. Caffeine takes up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database and adds new information at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day. You would need 625,000 of the largest iPods to store that much information; if these were stacked end-to-end they would go for more than 40 miles.” Wow! 100Million GB in one database, that is a lot of tweets.

What do you think? Add a comment if you have another quick thing that online retailers can do to quickly keep their website content fresh and stay up on Caffeine.


  • Archie Martineze 08/28/10
    Great article and genuinely helps with understanding the issue much better.
  • seo delhi 07/29/10
    New version of Google (caffeine) shows fast result than older version so webmaster should web page minimizes size. New version not index duplicate content pages. Webmaster should enter new unique content.
  • Hi Nate, great post topic so I thought I'd jump in too. Relevance, relevance, relevance... Google has always favored relevance over quantity and that model will surely find its way into this new world of micro-content. I've seen many top ranking pages with zero content but...with lots of inbound links from highly relevant and Google esteemed websites. Conclusion? It's not what you know, but who you know. So as one looks at "what to do," focus on quality first and then quantity (hopefully lots of quality). Thus seek out relevant bloggers, tweeters, videocasters, Facebook Fan Pages (Like pages?) and other content producing types for link trading. Post content that they'll be interested in picking up and pick up their content too (share and share alike). A few choice relationships with an esteemed Google presence will trump lots of little content producers. In aiming for a target, choose relevant content producers before whipping out the shotgun.
  • Hey Nate, I think you've nailed quite a few of the strategies on the head in this post. The idea behind caffeine is to, obviously, provide a much more fresh view of the content on the web. It has been rumored for some time that providing fresh content and consistently updating your website will increase crawl rate and overall ranking - I think that will come into play at an even higher level moving forward. So a couple things that retailers might consider to keep new content on their pages aside from what you've already listed? The hardest areas to generate new and updated content are individual product pages so consider adding the ability for consumer to write reviews. For those sites that already have reviews / comments available consider ways that you can encourage an increase in written reviews (perhaps a follow up e-mail once the product has been shipped?). Next consider, allowing users to tag your products. Its a very 'social' thing and a lower barrier of entry than actually having to write an individual review. Not only that but you'll benefit from the additional interlinking. Amazon does this quite well. I think socially, leverage Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and others regularly (updating often is key!) and make sure to include some links back to your website. Blogging, as you mentioned, will also be extremely important and, again, make sure to add in links in your content. After all, Google will not only be indexing much faster but they'll be able to find those links much faster now as well. Hope that provides some helpful tips!

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