Appeared in the MediaPost, August 11, 2009, quoting Bryson Meunier:
Google has revealed a new version of its search engine, allowing people to take it for a spin and review results it returns. The engine, available at a test URL address, looks the same as the one being used at google.com, but ranks query results differently.
Sitaram Iyer, Google staff software engineer, and Matt Cutts, Google principal engineer, in a blog post late Monday called the engine "a secret project," the next-generation architecture for Google's Web search meant to process and return faster, more accurate results. "It's the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions," they wrote.
Google says the project, code-name "Caffeine," has been in the works for months, though the announcement comes just weeks after Microsoft and Yahoo reported a deal that Bing would power Yahoo sites.
"The Caffeine update isn't about making some UI changes here or there," Cutts writes in a separate blog post, suggesting that even power users won't notice much difference. "This update is primarily under the hood: we're rewriting the foundation of some of our infrastructure."
Although Caffeine is just a test at this time, a Google spokesperson says the Web content indexing system will not have an impact on paid search listings, as David Szetela, Clix Marketing founder, suspected.
The team unveiled the new search engine hoping to gain feedback from the development community. And feedback they're getting. SEO Guru David Harry points to Google's array of algorithms in which it makes 300 or so changes to yearly. He says Google already supports 'real time,' fresher results, through their query deserves freshness algo.
"I can't see a big announcement similar to this as limited to, or targeted at, more real-time results," Harry says. "We're going to have to let the dust settle on this one and wait until it is released into the wild before truly deciding what it will, or won't, mean to the SEO world. Anything beyond that is mere supposition, an attempt to play into the buzz surrounding it."
But some believe the fact that Google has solicited input from developers and SEO experts may send an important signal the algorithm could change in more significant ways than usual, according to Marty Weintraub, president of aimClear, a SEM agency with offices in Duluth and Minneapolis, Minn. Pretty much everything Google changes matters somehow, he says.
"Google's standard method is to impose changes, from subtle to major, and leave SEOs to figure out the ramifications, as we all pick shrapnel out of our backside," Weintraub says. "Though, I also wonder if the transparency here is in response to Google's mishandling of the noFollow issue and previous 'brand' update. Either way, the transparency is refreshing."
Bryson Meunier, associate director of Content Solutions at Resolution Media, says the update is mostly about speed and index size. Rankings have changed little. And on first review, blended search results do not seem prominent, but that could just be while in beta, he says.
Meunier believes marketers and SEO professionals should run core keywords through the developer URL to see if their rankings have changed. "Once it's rolled out to Google.com, best practices call for continually tweaking on and off-page factors to reverse-engineer the update and keep and improve your visibility," he says.