Clues for Ranking with Google Caffeine

Although the Google Caffeine algorithm still isn’t live, it was scheduled to be released sometime after the holidays; with the holidays long behind us, a lot of search marketers are wondering what they can do to prepare for the new algorithm when it does finally arrive.

Well, Google offered a public preview of Caffeine back in August 2009, and marketers were given a few important clues as to how to adjust their SEO strategy in preparation for the full Caffeine roll-out. First, frequent content production and social media participation seem crucial to the Caffeine algorithm. In fact, this is reflected in how Caffeine indexes and stores results more quickly. This makes Caffeine seem designed to deal with how the web has evolved from a being a more passive medium to a more interactive and social one.

In this respect, Caffeine looks a lot like an evolved blended search. So if marketers hope to rank well as Caffeine is rolled out, they need a content strategy to help them (1) produce a variety of social branded content, and (2) update that content on a regular basis. What seems to herald is the need to add the optimization of offsite branded content to SEO strategy.

Park Your Profiles

If your business is going to participate on social sites, it needs to choose those that are most appropriate for its business model and target market. This way, your efforts won’t be spread too thin.  As part of that strategy you’ll also want to ensure that no one squats on or spoofs your brand on one of the sites you decide is not a priority. For this reason, you should register/park/squat-on your brand’s username on the majority of popular social media sites.

With over 350 social sites out there, protecting your brand name from squatters can be challenging. However, by using a service such a KnowEm, you can easily secure your brand name on all the top social sites. Essentially, KnowEm is a service that:

Allows you to check for the use of your brand, product, personal name or username instantly on over 350 popular and emerging social media websites [and then register] your name and secure your brand before someone else does.

Of course, once you’ve secured your brand name on social media sites, you’re going to have to (1) participate on the ones that make the most sense for your business model, and (2) employ a content strategy to ensure that your participation on these sites is regular and consistent.

Content Strategy

The main reason to have a content strategy, is that social media profiles shouldn’t be left idle. Idle profiles will not only reflect poorly on a brand, but they won’t rank.

Since Caffeine seems much like an evolved kind of blended search, the first step to optimizing for the new algorithm is in optimizing for blended search. Google generates blended search results based on what ranks well in each of its search verticals — i.e. web, images, news, video, etc. So optimizing for blended search (and possibly Caffeine) means that you have to have a content strategy to participate in each of these verticals.

Social Networks

Since by all indications Google Caffeine prefers participation the first step to your brand securing added real-estate in the SERPs is by participating on the most popular social networks, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

On Twitter, you can share company news and product promotions, as well as engage existing and potential customers in conversation. Indeed, Twitter has proven to be a great customer relations tool for many brands, both large and small.

Similarly, on LinkedIn, your brand can secure a company listing and engage employees and industry piers through conversation threads. This will connect your branded content to a niche, industry network, and Google will recognize that network and index your content accordingly.

Through Facebook, your brand can engage employees, industry piers, and potential customers by sharing company news and organizing events. In fact, your brand’s Facebook page is probably the one place where your content can be made to rank through other peoples’ participation — i.e. the more people that become a fan and/or join your brand’s Facebook group, and leave comments and develop user generated content around your brand the better those pages will rank.

As a final touch, make sure to link to all of your active social media profiles from your actual site, and use appropriate anchor text – i.e. “my brand on Twitter.” The footer of your site and sidebar of your blog are great places to do this.

Image Content

Your brand should also look at how to distribute its branded content on popular photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Facebook. When uploading to your content to these site, you should make sure to use appropriate keywords wherever possible. You have two opportunities to do so:

  1. Before uploading your images, rename all the image files to include whatever keywords you want to rank for before uploading them — e.g. Brand _Name_at_Industry_Conference.jpeg
  2. During the uploading process, add keyword rich tags and image descriptions

You can also help this content gain additional traction by embedding these hosted images in a photo gallery or on your blog and use title tags and alt attributes when you do so. This will tell Google that the images are, indeed, relevant to your brand.

Finally, like other social platforms you should engage users as much as possible on these sites. Add friends and leave comments to encourage other to leave you comments. The more you participate, the more relevant your brand’s profile will appear to Google.

Video Content

Optimizing video for blended search is similar optimizing images. It involves (1) renaming the actual files to include targeted keywords, (2) uploading them to popular sites, such as YouTube, (3) describing and tagging them appropriately, (4) embedding them on your site and/or in your blog posts so that they can gain additional relevancy from an authority source – i.e. your own brand, and then (5) use the social networking features to add friends and subscribers, and generate comments on your content.

All this being said, many businesses wonder just what kind of video content they could possibly produce without breaking the bank on a video production studio. Well, there are actually 5 online video formats for businesses that are both simple and cost-effective to produce. These include:

  1. Product Demos
  2. User Generated Content (UGC) Videos
  3. Previously Aired TV Commercials
  4. Expert Interviews (with either staff or industry piers)
  5. and the Business Vlog (for team members that are both savvy and enthusiastic about social media)

By using a blend of these, your brand can ensure that it increases its brand profile in the Google Video SERPs and, thus Google Caffeine.

News Content

Although news content is not exactly social, per se, it is a big part of blended search, and seems to have factored into Caffeine results. Of course, the best way to have news results in the SERPs is by getting mainstream news media coverage. But you can also issue press releases through major online newswires.

While many of the free newswires are spammy and don’t rank well, there are few reputable that offer affordable distribution rates and rank well with Google News. One of the better ranking services is PR Web. They offer four different levels of releases, including an SEO release and a social media visibility package.

And when it comes to getting your press releases ranked in Google News, there are a few things you can do. First, you should avoid bullet lists because Google regards them as “fragmented content.” But you should also consider including images and video in your press release, because (1) it’s more content for Google to index, and (2) Caffeine seems to prefer such multi-media content.

Search & Social Content

Until Caffeine is actually live for a few months, it’s going to be impossible to determine what the new algorithm will mean for your brand and the keywords you’re targeting. What is certain, the web has changed from a more passive medium to a more interactive one, and if Google intends to continue to deliver the most relevant results to users, those results will have to be more interactive.

So no matter how you look at it, brands need to look at offering users more interactive experiences to users, and this means taking their content to where users are already interacting. Deploying a social media content strategy may or may not be the secret for ranking well with Caffeine, but it will have a clear and definitive impact on your brand’s search profile.

After all, the first page of search engine results has become ground-zero for managing your brand’s reputation. So, in the least, a social media content strategy will help your brand influence what both users and search engines say about you. And this, in turn, can help you (1) capture more of real-estate in the SERPs, and (2) make your own results more appealing to users.

About CT Moore

A former Staff Editor here at, CT Moore is a recovering agency hack with over a decade experience leveraging search, social media, and content marketing to help brands meet their business goals online. He currently provides digital strategy consulting to start-ups, SMBs, enterprise level companies through his consultancy Socialed Inc.. CT is also an accomplished blogger and speaker who educates groups and companies on how they can better leverage different online channels.

2 Responses to Clues for Ranking with Google Caffeine

  1. Okay, now this REALLY is a great article. Excellent, excellent and thanks for sharing. Great take on what we can expect from Caffeine and well broken down to cover the various spokes. I believe you're right on track and these factors are def going to be more important than ever.

    And not only with Caffeine but look at Google Social Search and the growth of real-time search; it's getting more and more about updated content, social content, true perceived reputation and really being in the age of new media. Now don't get me wrong, I believe you'll always need links too but you're going to have to focus on a mix more now.

  2. Mark says:

    Yes! Very good explanation!