Algorithm Rolled Out: August 10, 2009

Algorithm Summary: Overall Gist

On August 10, 2009, Google released Caffeine, one of the most significant improvements in the search engine’s history. The Caffeine Update was so large that Google issued a “Developer Preview” for months. That is because there was so much at risk, Google granted SEO specialists and engineers early access to it so we could report any problems we saw. It was ultimately released on June 8, 2010.

What Was the Google Caffeine Update All About?

Caffeine was a newly developed web indexing technology. Google was able to crawl and store data much more effectively because of this new technology. According to Google, they were able to not only enhance their index but also deliver significantly more recent results.

So, how did this go down?

In their previous indexing approach, pages and content kinds were classified based on perceived freshness needs. Different crawlers were dispatched, some checking for changes and others reindexing modified pages – all dependent on the content’s categorization. If a site was in the fresh category, it was crawled by several bots that promptly added the material to the index, although most sites’ content was reindexed every couple of weeks.

Of course, this creates the possibility that essential and new information may be absent from the index as a result of site classification. Caffeine gave Google the capacity to crawl, collect data, and add it to its index in seconds, resulting in significantly more up-to-date information available across a larger range of sites. Furthermore, it was designed with a knowledge of future expansion and how changing devices and media types might affect the resources required.

Why Did Google Launch Caffeine?

Caffeine was neither an algorithm change nor was it an attempt by Google to influence results in any way. Caffeine, on the other hand, was a full rewrite of their indexing system. One only needs to look at the evolving web to realize why this is the case.

The Internet in 1998, when the first Google indexing engine was built, was very different from the Internet in 2009. When the index was first created, there were 2.4 million websites and 188 million individuals on the internet. By 2009, there were 238 million websites and about 1.8 billion users trying to access them, with no end in sight to either.

Add to that the considerable changes in the sorts of material that require indexing, with video usage soaring and photos, maps, and other data being added to the mix. The old index simply wouldn’t do.

Who Were Affected By Caffeine?

In contrast to a usual Google update, there was no detrimental impact on individual sites. Some sites, however, experienced a decline in ranks and/or organic visitors. With a bigger index, Google gained the ability to crawl quicker and offer more recent results. Sites that broke fresh stories first were rewarded.

Whereas in the prior indexing scheme, sites could only benefit from this speed if they were in a new category, now everyone may. This might be interpreted as a blow to those who were previously in the fresh index.

Rumors Regarding Freshness

One thing this update has in common with practically every previous upgrade in Google’s history was that rumors about how to optimize for it spread rapidly.

Because the upgrade was centered on Google’s capacity to index information and content changes quickly, there were several blog posts and articles stating that changing content regularly offered an SEO benefit and that merely adding new content was also a signal.

This update had nothing to do with ranking signal adjustments. If more recent content resulted in higher results, this was due to other algorithms, not Caffeine. It was made feasible by the Caffeine Update, however, the update itself had no effect on the findings.

Influence on Search

While the Caffeine Update had no direct influence on rankings other than enabling quicker indexing of new material, it did lay the groundwork for some major improvements to come.

The pre-Caffeine index couldn’t keep up with the internet’s current 1.3 billion web pages, nor could it handle the wide range of devices, data formats, and query input types that we now take for granted.

Caffeine is to blame if you appreciate voice search, RankBrain, and a wide range of search categories ranging from video to rich and diversified news.

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