Google announced a new “under the hood” search infrastructure project today, code named Caffeine. The Google Blog explains:
t’s the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions. The new infrastructure sits “under the hood” of Google’s search engine, which means that most users won’t notice a difference in search results. But web developers and power searchers might notice a few differences, so we’re opening up a web developer preview to collect feedback.
Some parts of this system aren’t completely finished yet, so we’d welcome feedback on any issues you see. We invite you to visit the web developer preview of Google’s new infrastructure at http://www2.sandbox.google.com/ and try searches there.
Here’s how to give us feedback: Do a search at http://www2.sandbox.google.com/ and look on the search results page for a link at the bottom of the page that says “Dissatisfied? Help us improve.” Click on that link, type your feedback in the text box and then include the word caffeine somewhere in the text box.
PC World’s David Coursey speculates about the consequences for businesses and SEO gurus:
Caffeine…could change how your company ranks in its search results. For those businesses that live-and-die based on Google-generated traffic, this is potentially a very big deal.
It is unclear at this point whether Caffeine will be more or less amiable to the magic worked by SEO practitioners, whose mysterious art is aimed at winning the coveted first page of Google results for keyword searches of interest to their client.
It’s probably too early to make changes, but web developers and others with SEO interests are doubtless already running searches using their existing keywords to see what changes appear in their rankings.
This also means a field day for those selling quick fixes that will supposedly give companies a top Google ranking. There’s nothing quite like something most people don’t understand, but that can dramatically effect your business, to give some people anxiety.
Before you run off and try to re-learn SEO, give Caffeine a test run. It looks like most people haven’t found major search result differences between Caffeine and the old version of Google. I found a couple of shuffled results during my own testing, but nothing major. If you have any kind of online presence, I encourage you to try out the searches that are important to you. I postulate that only the minority of people will experience negative search consequences from Caffeine (note: international/mobile results still look undeveloped).
If you don’t want to try out the sandbox search yourself, Google Watch’s Clint Boulton has a couple of screen captures depicting traditional/caffeinated search results.