The company synonymous with Internet search just got a major shot in the arm. On Thursday, Google announced the completion of its new web indexing system named Caffeine. The update, which promises "50 percent fresher" search results, has been activated across Google's servers on a global scale. Will you notice a difference? These are the things going on "under the hood," so to speak:
  • Here's What They Did, explains Camille Ricketts at VentureBeat: "Google's old indexing system -- which made it famous and blew Yahoo and Ask.com out of the water when it launched a decade ago -- took a layered approach. Top-tier content (determined based on linking) would be refreshed more often than lower-tier content. But each one of this refreshes required Google to review all web content, and discover and rank new pages. This obviously required a lot of time and computing power. Caffeine breaks this task into bite-size pieces. Instead of analyzing vast swaths of the internet with every update, it continuously looks at much smaller portions, re-indexing content along the way. This means that recently-published pages are added much sooner than they used to be. It's a bit like how they paint the Golden Gate Bridge -- a little at a time from one end to the other, and when they're done they start from the beginning again."
  • This Was a Crucial Move, writes Mark Wilson at Gizmodo: "Caffeine is the sort of update Google needs to follow the pace of searching services like Twitter. And indeed, Google will need to maintain/continue such innovations to keep up--our world is translated from analog to digital in more, quicker ways every day."
  • Stats, Beautiful Stats! gushes Chris Davies at Slash Gear: "It wouldn't be a Google announcement without a few mind-blowing stats, and Caffeine certainly delivers on that. If the new index was represented as a pile of paper, they say, it would grow three miles taller every second; meanwhile Caffeine occupies nearly 100 million gigabytes of storage in a single database, adding new information at a rate of hundreds of thousands of gigabytes per day."
  • This Helps Google's Bottom Line, explains Matthew Humphries at Geek.com: "Although we think of fresher results in search as benefiting the end user, it also benefits Google. If the latest information can be supplied to the user more quickly, then the adverts surrounding them can be more relevant to current events. That potentially means more clicks and more dollars for Google."
  • Will This Change How Google Ranks Pages? "Nope," writes Vanessa Fox at Search Engine Land. "Google told me that this change doesn't make any of the crawling, indexing, or ranking factors more or less important than before. It simply makes crawled content available in search results more quickly before and paves the way for added flexibility in taking advantage of the whatever may come as the web evolves."
  • That's Debatable, counters The Guardian's Charles Arthur. He cites a test by Mashable that shows changes in how Google ranks pages: "It does, or possibly doesn't, have some effect on the black arts of SEO [search engine optimization]. Watch for the latter group to go around mumbling for the next few weeks about how Caffeine has completely upset their rankings and careful work - even while Google protests that it's changed nothing at all."
  • Wait, Wait. How Does Search Work Again? For that answer, Google helpfully supplies a video: