New Ranking Update for Google Caffeine

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For those of you with existing ecommerce, blog or affiliate businesses, you may be aware of a big update that is only a few weeks away to Google’s ranking algorithm – “Google Caffeine” as it has been dubbed. Based upon all indications, this is not going to be just a simple update of their algorithm, but a major overhaul of its index and algorithm. Matt Cutts, the PR guy over at Google has been oh so kind to let us know that this year, they plan to roll out the Caffeine update after the holidays so as not to majorly upset site owners during the busy and lucrative holiday season.

A few months back Google showed the world a preview of what Caffeine was going to look like when it was rolled out (or rather how it was going to act). The beta site, www2.sandbox.google.com which was recently taken down in anticipation of the rollout, would show you where your site will rank on the new algorithm. Based upon this beta test module, we along with many other SEO’s ran a number of tests to try to figure out what was different in the new algorithm, what ranking factors would carry more weight and what factors would be less important for the Google in 2010.

I recently came back from an internet marketing mastermind weekend conference in Orlando where a group of about 25 professional marketers discussed these same changes, and what are the best practices for SEO moving forward in 2010. Here is a rundown of new focus points for your business, your SEO and link building campaigns for Google Caffeine:

  • Site speed – this has not played a huge role in the ranking algorithm for Google in the past, but expect that to change in 2010. Grab a Firefox plugin such as Firebug and test your site speed.
  • Broken links and linking to “bad neighborhoods” – on page linking is going to play a huge roll in the Caffeine rollout. You want to check your Google Webmaster Tools account for any broken links (they report them to you, how cool is that) and get those cleaned up. Also take a look at any outside sites you are linking to. Are they quality sites? Are you offering paid links to pages that might be considered a link farm or bad neighborhood? Cut those links now.
  • [ =1,2,3]Internal Link Structure – it has always been important to have a good internal linking structure on your site, but with the Caffeine rollout, this is actually going to play a role in giving you higher rankings. Make sure on your homepage, that you have static (not javascript) links to all the other important category or subpages of your site. Each of your subpages should link to the homepage as well as any internal product or post pages. Passing and keeping the “link reputation” within your site is going to be critical for higher rankings on your long tail phrases.
  • On page factors – Quality content, page design, navigation, title, meta tags, description, keyword density, alt tags, page views, traffic numbers and time spent on the page appear that they will be given more weight with Google Caffeine.
  • Link building – the concept of “Keyword Authority ” (see the first tutorial in our Link Building Mastery series) appears to play a big role as a ranking factor for Google Caffeine. This means when it comes to link building, what is most critical is to get links from high authority sites that pass high Link Authority to your site. In this type of link building, anchor text isn’t as crucial, what is most important is getting a link from a site with high Link Authority and then using your internal linking structure to pass around that Link Authority using internal anchor text links. Check out our Link building Mastery series for more on this.

You have a few weeks before the update is rolled out, so we wanted to get some of these new ranking factors out in front of you with a little time to make some changes so that you are seated to receive a nice boost in rankings once the algorithm is updated.

As always, any questions or comments or discussion, post below or in the forums!

Ashley R.

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