Observations on Google Caffeine

by Gary on September 9, 2009 · 7 comments

in Search Engines,SEO

Last month Google unveiled their secret project: Google Caffeine. According to Google, Caffeine is “the next-generation architecture for Google’s web search. It’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions.”

This new development has created quite a stir in the SEO world since it will affect SEO as we know it being a change not simply in user-interface (UI) or a simple addition of search options but in the actual algorithm that runs Google’s search engine. What this means is that we have been (and if you haven’t been doing this yet) should be keeping tabs on how your websites are doing not only in Google’s SERPs but also Google Caffeine’s SERPs. This is important because you want to be able to figure out what Caffeine’s algorithm focuses on and adjust your SEO efforts according ly. This actually means playing around with endless keywords since, as mentioned earlier; the change is not in the UI so that at first glance you might not notice much difference. Furthermore, lots of search results do not vary that greatly, which I interpret to mean that Google still uses pretty much the same factors and places emphasis on old SEO staple like keywords, domain age, etc. However, there are some surprises. Afterall, it is in the way the compute and look and process these factors that will be different.

So far here are some of my observations  about the new Google search engine:

Speed – Google Caffeine is definitely faster when it comes to fetching results compared to the old Google (see upper right corner of SERPs for fetch time). It takes only 0.13 seconds for Caffeine to fetch results for the search term “SEO Blog” but takes 0.33 seconds for the old Google to do it. This has been consistently approximately the same for other search terms I’ve tried.

Index size – This one varies from search term to search term so I have to say that my tests are still inconclusive.

Emphasis on freshness of results – There seems to be no real difference with both coming up with the latest news headlines in the SERPs when I typed in search terms related to current events. However, there are some instances when Caffeine put a news result on the top spot (example: Louis Vuitton), which isn’t the case for the old Google search. What is notable about this is that for SEOs we should note that this simply means that Google is giving more and more emphasis to freshness of content.

Video/Image results – For some search terms the video results seem to be given less importance while some have climbed up in the SERPs.  When it comes to images lots of times the images, which are placed at the top of Google’s old SERPs have disappeared totally in Caffeine’s SERPs.

If you want to do your own tests you might want to go to Compare Google Caffeine or simply type in search terms at Google Caffeine and the old Google Search Engine. Google welcomes feedback but remember that for now they want to hear about the differences you spot between the two.

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