Google updates are like earthquakes - you know they are going to happen, just not when or how big they are going to be.
Currently the search engine optimisation (SEO) world is waiting for 'the big one' to hit. Known as 'Big-daddy', Google's latest update to its infrastructure is rumoured to be a nine on the SEO Richter scale.
Pre-tremors have already been felt in California. Google put Bigdaddy on some of its West Coast data centres, allowing the SEO fraternity to test the new version of the world's largest search engine.
Contrary to popular conception google.com is not one website. It runs on dozens of data centres dotted around the world. Which data centre you get connected to is determined by your geographical location.
Google estimates that Bigdaddy will be fully rolled out to all of its data centres by the end of March. So come April we'll all know if our search engine fortunes have changed.
Any day now you could come into work and find your website number one in Google, or, if it already is, then relegated to the wasteland that is the second page of results.
So what does Bigdaddy like?
Google won't tell us directly, as detailed knowledge of their ranking system represents untold commercial power (it's rumoured that exemployees have their brains washed before they are allowed to leave the Googleplex).
However, there are many who think they are in the know, along with leaks from our inside man, known only as 'googleguy'.
Sites with changing content will be boosted even more. We've known for a long time that Google keeps a record of how often our sites change and the more frequently that is the better.
There are improvements in "canonicalization" which is Google's word for choosing the best name for a site. With most sites having multiple domain names these days, Google can now merge multiple listings into one, reducing the number of duplicated links in any given results pages.
Rumour has it that they have made some big improvements in the way it rates domain names that have been re-directed. I'll spare you the details, but cunning redirection is the number one tool used by 'black hat' SEO to gain artificial rankings.
BMW was recently caught boosting its car sales site by using so-called 'doorway' pages that redirect users to its German used car website. Now, when you search for 'gebrauchtwagen' (German for 'used car'), its competitors sites come up along with links to many disparaging blogs
Theoretically, if you don't use SEO tricks, Bigdaddy should mean your site is likely to move up the ranking as those who do get demoted.
The worrying thing is that some older sites and those created by feckless web developers might have used some bad redirects unwittingly and legitimate sites will go down.
At time of writing, Big-daddy has not hit the UK Google data centre, but it will happen, and sometime soon.
* Chris is managing director of internet consultancy WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at webxpress.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.