Google Caffeinates its Search Engine

Over the past few months, Google has been working on optimizing its search engine architecture for better, faster results. For some this may seem ridiculous: isn't Google already the fastest and most reliable search engine out there? Perhaps, but Google isn't about to rest on its laurels; it's committed to evolution.

The secret project is named Caffeine -- a wink at its speed increase -- and is designed to "push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and other dimensions." Right now anybody can try out its coffee-amped powers. But don't expect a mind-blowing spectacle of change: Caffeine's tweaks are all under the hood. I Googled myself using both Caffeine and the ordinary search and found no difference between the two. "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," Google wrote in a blog post.

If you're dissatisfied with your new and improved search results, Google wants to know. Check out the bottom of your search page and you'll see a link asking "Dissatisfied? Help us improve." Click there and submit feedback on Caffeine. Google is always looking to improve its systems -- hence why everything stays in beta forever -- and could use a shout-out.

Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer, worked on Caffeine before its release and gave some Q&A on his blog. Cutts even answers the question that is likely on many minds: is Google giving itself a makeover in response to Microsoft's Bing? The answer is no. "I love competition in search and want lots of it, but this change has been in the works for months," Cutts wrote. "I think the best way for Google to do well in search is to continue what we've done for the last decade or so: focus relentlessly on pushing our search quality forward."

I'm not sure I believe that statement. Yes, Google has undoubtedly been working on Caffeine for months, but Microsoft has been building Bing for a while, too.

The test of Caffeine's success rests on whether or not people will care and understand, and if the changes prove more substantial than a few additional pages of faster results.

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