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Google's Caffeine update is coming. Billed by Google as "the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions", Caffeine is not your regular Google update.
When Caffeine was announced, Google did something it had never done before: it offered up a sandbox so that the public could preview search results with Caffeine and provide Google with feedback. While that sandbox is no longer available, you won't have to wait long for your Caffeine jolt: according to Google's Matt Cutts, Caffeine is coming after the holidays.
Cutts revealed the news on his blog:
The feedback on Caffeine has been very positive, so we’re ready to move from the developer preview to the next stage of the roll out: going live with Caffeine at one data center. This means that a small percentage of Google’s users will benefit from the technology behind Caffeine in their regular searches.
I know that webmasters can get anxious around this time of year, so I wanted to reassure site owners that the full Caffeine roll out will happen after the holidays. Caffeine will go live at one data center so that we can continue to collect data and improve the technology, but I don’t expect Caffeine to go live at additional data centers until after the holidays are over. Most searchers wouldn’t immediately notice any changes with Caffeine, but going slowly not only gives us time to collect feedback and improve, but will also minimize the stress on webmasters during the holidays.
While it remains to be seen just how much of an impact Caffeine will have on the SERPs, the news that Caffeine won't hit before the holidays will certainly help some sleep easier. Any potential shift in the SERPs could understandably create anxiety going into the holidays, the most important part of the year for many businesses. For a top-ranked site, a relatively small drop in the SERPs could still have a big financial impact.
Once the new year begins, however, you can be sure that many will be anxious to see if Google has given them the best present ever or a New Years' Day hangover. For those who can't wait to open their gift, Cutts mentioned in a comment that Google will probably reveal the IP address of the data center that gets Caffeine first.
Photo credit: MoonSoleil via Flickr.