First Look at Google’s New ‘Caffeine’ Update
Global giants Google have unveiled their “secret project” this Monday, an upgraded version of their current search engine. It has been codenamed “Caffeine” and claims to offer faster, more accurate and comprehensive search results than its predecessor.
The update is ready for testing and for the first time, Google is requesting feedback to iron out any problems from the webmaster community and search savvy power users. This is an uncharacteristic but welcome move, which has taken many by surprise.
Google’s software engineer Matt Cutts says the update is “under the hood” and from my findings, this statement proves to be correct. Not much has changed from the UI (user interface) side, some users may not notice a difference at all. It’s more of a back-end algorithm update than anything else.
Google Caffeine is fast, often double the speed of the current Google Search when returning results. Some people may ask if speed is really all that important? We are only talking about fractions of a second, yet studies have shown this can make the difference between users continuing to search or finding information elsewhere.
There is a new addition to aid users when searching, a drop down menu that offers suggestions of what you might be looking for. Previously the suggestions list was only on the homepage of Google Search, they have now introduced it to the results searches too. I used the example ‘Brighton Pier’ (as shown below) and some of the alternatives that appear included ‘Brighton Pier Fire’ and ‘Brighton Pier Rides’, all being relevant to the initial search term.
Normal search results aren’t noticeably different, there is evidence that more emphasis has been put on social websites like high profile Twitter and Facebook pages as they appear higher up the rankings. There are however differences in the placement of news, video and image results; seemingly appearing further down the page depending on what is searched for.
Speculations that Google have made a move to counter the recent Microsoft and Yahoo partnership, and Facebook’s FriendFeed purchase earlier this week have been dismissed, “This change has been in the works for months,” stated Matt Cutts on his personal blog.
Google is the world leader when it comes to search, so any change regardless of its size will impact users and businesses worldwide. As we have grown to know from past Google updates such as the recent Vince update, they do tend to shake up search results. For those unaware, Vince focused more on brands and less on SEO (search engine optimisation) promoting big names higher than less well known players. Google has said this Caffeine update isn’t finished yet, and the code behind it will change over the next few weeks.
Google Caffeine is still being developed and improved, it might be slightly better in some instances compared to the current Google Search, but has yet to prove a breakthrough.