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Understanding Google Caffeine
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Over the past week or so, you have no doubt heard of Google's "infrastructure" update dubbed Google Caffeine which can be accessed via www2.sandbox.google.com. While this is not an algorithm update per se, Google Caffeine is more of a step by step type of update for the search engine's infrastructure.

Part of the reason for this update is the need for Google to improve how they crawl, index and place pages in their Index. Google has always stated that they are continually looking to improve the search results that they serve to users. Part of doing this means faster indexing and returning results quicker, perhaps eventually in a more real-time aspect. With other players such as Facebook and Twitter returning somewhat real-time search results, Google does need to improve the timeliness of the results they display. If you think about it, they took some initial steps with this with Universal Search when they began to display things such as news results, blog results and shopping results within the main results of their Index.

Internet Speed is Taking Over

Internet speed is fast and online users such as the millions of digital natives out there are requiring Internet speed to find he information they are looking for, to communicate with their online peers and to simply examine everything that is important to them in cyber space. Google realizes this and as a result knows that they cannot simply return their traditional SERP. In order to remain the world's number one search engine, Google understands the need to improve their web search by size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and ultimately relevancy.

So what will Google Caffeine mean for you as a user? Well keeping in mind that the chnages will be rolled out over a period of what is most likely months, you may in fact not see a whole lot of difference. If you want to compare the two algorithms from Google, there are tools such as http://www.sembience.com/labs/google-caffeine-ranking where you can compare rankings to see what the Index will look like.

Here's a look at the difference between the results when we performed a search for "car insurance".

Current Algorithm a.k.a. "Google Decaf"

Google Caffeine

At the end of the day, Google's infrastructure change is designed to improve the web experience for the user. This next-generation architecture will be focused on offering real-time search results. Depending on the nature of the query, this will mean seeing more Universal (blended) search results. It is no coincidence tht news results appear in the prime organic real estate of a Google Search Results Page (SERP) as news results tend to be timely pieces of information.

There have been examples of times when users have gone to other "search" resources such as Twitter as opposed to Google to find the information they are looking for. Consider the example of the breaking news on June 25th when reports were coming in about Michael Jackson suffering a fatal heart attack. While users were flocking online to confirm reports, Twitter was a common destination for many. Google in fact could not handle the query volume and actually experienced some down time. The fact is people were able to find the information they were looking for on Twitter, Wikipedia and things such as blogs that they did not necessarily need Google to take them there.

Blended Search and real time search are closely related. Look for Google to marry these two closer together in upcoming weeks and months. Google Caffeine is the start of something good for Searchers. The question is how soon will users notice drastic changes in the results? The answer is probably not for a while.


posted by Jody @ 7:35 AM  
  • At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Social Media Application said…

    Good Stuff , Thanks for pulling this altogether. Makes a really interesting post. I’m really enjoying your blog.............

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