Understanding the Affect of Google's Caffeine Update on Backlinks

Anyone who follows all the latest from Google will have heard of the new caffeine update that is being rolled out over the next coming months. Google engineer Matt Cutts confirmed on his blog that this update isn’t going to shake up our search results too much although we may notice some minor changes with Google’s algorithm.

Cuts says we should expect to see a vast improvement of speed, more search results per keyword, and, most importantly, real-time results and breaking news in our searches. Google had been expected to announce this update for some time after both Twitter and Facebook announced they were launching real-time search engines.

But after testing the new update, it’s obvious that Google’s algorithm has also been affected.

Backlinks Take a Backseat

Anyone who knows a thing or two about SEO understands the importance of backlinks. You will also know that keywords within a backlink can drastically affect which search terms will display your website. For a great example of this, try a search for “Click here” and you will notice the first result is from Adobe (get.adobe.com/reader/). Notice that this page does not have the words click or here anywhere on that page and neither in the URL. Therefore the only factor influencing Adobe’s listing is the links pointing to it. If you analyze these links carefully, you will notice that there are over 500,000 links pointing to the Adobe page with the anchor text, “click here.”

When we compared this with the new caffeine update, we noticed that Adobe no longer holds their No. 1 placement on the term. Instead ClickHere.com, a marketing agency, gained the top spot. This may not seem like anything major, but ClickHere.com has less than 30 backlinks in comparison with to Adobe’s 500,000. Going by what SEO experts know about Google’s ranking algorithm, Adobe should dominate the No. 1 position without doubt.

Algorithm Changes

Google has either made dramatic changes to the importance of keywords within a domain name, or, more likely, Google is changing its backlink algorithm in a drastic way. My guess is that Google has either found a way to detect “spammy” links from services link Text-Link-Ads or backlinks have taken a step back and now other factors are playing a more important role in the ranking algorithm.

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Casey Rowland
Casey Rowland | Director of Marketing

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