After just under a year of public testing, Google is finally adding some flavor to its search engine and rolled out Caffeine, its "next-generation architecture" search indexing system. Caffeine should allow the company to deliver faster and more accurate results within an increasingly complex and demanding search environment.
Code Name "Caffeine"
In a blog post by software engineer Carrie Grimes, Google said Caffeine was designed to face the explosion of data available on the web as well as the increasing complexity of it - read rich content such as video for example.
The company had first announced on August 10, 2009 that "a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project" that would impact "size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions" of search.
At the time, it had issued a call for action to the public, asking users to test drive the new indexing system and to provide feedback.
How It Works
The release of Caffeine indeed is supposed to take search to another dimension, with Google claiming that it enables searches to be 50% faster, as well as more comprehensive and, obviously, more accurate and relevant.
Google explains that instead of refreshing whole layers one by one (which takes a few weeks), Caffeine only refreshes small portions of the web and this is what makes it faster overall as it refreshes "on a continuous basis, globally."
Here's the graphic provided by Google to make their point:
"Every second, Caffeine processes hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel. (...) Caffeine takes up nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in one database and adds new information at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day. You would need 625,000 of the largest iPods to store that much information; if these were stacked end-to-end they would go for more than 40 miles," it said.
Please note the reference to Apple that I find particularly interesting in light of the iPad developer's stance to adopt Bing as another browser on Safari and considering the ongoing rumors that Steve Jobs intends to drop Google as a browser on iPhone...
Direct User Impact?
As CNET noted, Google did not go into details as to whether the whole system had been switched to Caffeine or if it's a gradual roll out process. Should it be the latter option, it would be precious information for SEOs to know the strategy by geographical zones...
One thing is certain. Google staff software engineer Sitaram Iyer and principal engineer Matt Cutts did warn in Google's August blog post that "most users won't notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences."
According to EConsultancy, "SEOs aren't likely to get too comfortable" but at least, it seems that although the move to Caffeine is both crucial and of scale, it is unlikely to be too much of a nightmare both for users and SEO/SEM specialists.
EConsultancy bets on the fact that although the switch to Caffeine will not impact ranking for now but as Google keeps on updating its features, it may well update its search results... and probably sooner rather than later.
Bearing in mind the upcoming integration of Bing into Yahoo, search optimization professionals and marketers will certainly have to roll up their sleeves, and doubly so if Google Caffeine implies ranking changes too.
Indeed, once the Bing-Yahoo alliance is effective, Yahoo will weigh heavier on the search scene and account for about a third of market share, PC World reported.
This means that marketers may want to optimize their sites for Bing.
PC World also cited Janet Driscoll Miller, president and CEO of B-to-B lead-generation company SearchMojo as saying: "It's going to be a two-engine world in the future, where you'll have Bing and Google to worry about as SEOs [search engine optimizers]."
What difference do you think caffeine will mean to webmasters and Google's competitors? Do let us know if you notice any significant changes in your search rankings with Caffeine.