Search Engine Changes In 2011

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

There were some big changes to the search engine landscape last year, and if you’re a website owner, these are a few things you should keep in mind for the future. Five key areas were:

  1. Google’s Panda Update
  2. Caffeine
  3. Site Speed as Ranking Signal
  4. Socialisation of Searches
  5. Schema

If you have no idea what pandas and caffeine have to do with anything, don’t worry!  We’re here to help explain what they all mean for you.

1. Panda Update
This is a pretty big update in the world of search engines, straight from Google itself. What it means is that Google is now prioritising original content over “scraped” or copied content. For some websites, this is bad news. If you have a lot of duplicated content on your website, or content “borrowed” from another site, your ranking is going to go down. Google loves quality content, and if you have lots of it then Google will give preference to your site over your competitors.

2. Caffeine Update
Ever wonder how Google brings you search results so quickly? The reason Google can search the web in seconds flat is that it isn’t actually searching the web at all. Instead it searches an index, with a bit of information on each website. Since the advent of Caffeine, Google is now updating new content 50% faster. Google may prioritise new content over stale content. What this means is that your website content needs to be kept fresh. Regularly posting new, high-quality content, keeping your web info up-to-date, and keeping a regularly updated blog are all ways to make the new Caffeine indexing system work for your website.

3. Site Speed as a Ranking Signal
In the past, site speed didn’t have any effect on Google’s rankings. Last year, however, Google decided that speed is actually a pretty important part of whether a site is useful to searchers or not, and it’s now a part of their ranking system. It’s worth optimising your pages so they load quickly for your viewers to improve their viewing experience as well as to prevent a fall in Google rankings.

4. Socialisation of Search
Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have exploded in popularity recently, so it came as no surprise when Google and Bing confirmed that they will be factoring links shared on social media into their rankings. How they do this exactly is still shrouded in mystery, but it means that a social media presence could help you move up the rankings.

5. Schemia
Schemia is a collaborative effort from the three largest search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) that affects the way search results are displayed. By creating a new programming language that is common to all the engines, Schemia allows web designers to have much greater control over the “snippets” of information that are displayed on search engine result pages. This gives your website a chance to showcase its content with a specially designed preview.


With all these search engine changes going on in 2011, it’s important that website owners review their SEO strategy. The old techniques just won’t cut it anymore and fresh thinking is required. With such an eventful year in 2011, it’s going to be very interesting to see what changes come along in 2012.

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Katie is a lover of words and art, born and raised in Christchurch. With a BA in English and Japanese, she’s happiest tapping away at her keyboard writing copy or articles, or else working on the latest illustration. To balance the creative side, Katie is also very motivated and a bit of a perfectionist, which helps with her SEO duties. Although her hobbies could probably be described as art, art and more art, she also enjoys long walks, good friends and travel.

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