Google is working on their new Search Engine project code named Google Caffeine. A lot has been said and hyped about the same in the past one month or so ever since Google dislosed about this new secret project. I thought Google was forced to talk about it as Microsoft Bing’s popularity was slightly going up, though not yet to be alarmed about the same.
I just played around with Google Caffeine to see if there is anything significally different than the current Google search engine and here are my findings:
Speed and performance
In terms of pure search performance, Caffeine reported drastically better performance numbers (reported as the time taken for search) than the current Google search engine. But in my experiments I figured that it is really fast only when you search for most common single search words (e.g. ‘cow’, ‘lion’, ‘money’ etc). When you start searching for complicated words and phrases (e.g. ‘coorg trip from bangalore’) there is not much difference. And even when it claimed that there’s a difference, it did not faster and hence we have to go by what Google displays!
The second time search (ie. when you search for the same keyword the second time) is significantly faster in Caffeine as compared to the current search engine. This gives me an idea that the cache and hardware infrastructure put into the new lab project may be significantly better in capacity.
The speed of the search integrated Google apps (e.g. calculator), I thought, was slower than that of the current search engine. Just try something like ‘10*20=’ in both search engines and you will see the difference. However, I thought the AJAX based search suggestions that appear, as you type in, is very fast in Caffeine.
Size of the indexed pages
When I searched for most common single words (as mentioned above), the size of the search results (or indexed pages) is higher than that of the current search engine. However, when you search for phrases the current search engine has more indexed pages. Hence, we cannot really make an apple-to-apple comparison here. It may be even possible that there’re no separate bots crawling on behalf of these two search engines, but they are replicating the Google bot crawl data periodically for Caffeine test. I could not find my three day old post indexed by Caffeine but it is there in Google search. Also, my blog’s access statistics did not show any new bot trying to crawl this site.
SERPs organizing & features
Google is yet to implement image search results in Caffeine. They however have the video results as part of the search results. ‘Image search results’ is something that can affect the performance of search and hence, unless they implement all features of the current search engine in Caffeine as well, we cannot make a good comparative performance study.
What is in it for SEO?
A lot of SEO people have started talking that with Caffeine Google will give more weightage to the meta keywords and domain authority. But there is no proof to support this theory. However, I thought they have started doing some kind of experiments around keywords due to the very fact that single word searches are providing more indexed pages. It may be even that the keywords (traditional keyword meta items) rather than the keyphrases will be given more importance.
Further SEO aspects can be investigated only when the new SE goes live. I do not expect Google to change things dramatically as it can bring down the whole ecosystem and several SEO/SEM related businesses.
In short, the hype about speed is not something that can be really measured and verified for the time being. Moreover, we are relying on the data that Google displays in terms of time taken per search. If you really see, from the time you hit the ‘Search’ button to the complete loading of the SERPs, you are spending more time in uploading/downloading the page data than the time taken for search itself. So if Google makes a few milliseconds difference in search performance, you are not really going to see a huge performance boost in the overall search experience. Basically it’s something that only techies can talk about rather than a feature for the common man to practically avail any benefit. Also, as I mentioned, a little while ago, unless all features (e.g. image search results) are available, one cannot even claim any performance gain.
On the other hand, search relevancy – if improved – is something that they can make a big difference for most of us. There’s no clear evidence of any search results relevancy improvement in the case of Caffeine.
In short, I thought, Caffeine is more of a hype to take on bing and to sustain Google’s current marketshare than something that significantly change the life of the Internet search user. Having said that, I would reserve my further coments until the final release is available. You never know, Google might even spring a surprise at the end! But I would definitely want the simplicity of Google’s current user interface maintained as it is (than going for a heavy user interface like some of its competitors).