Google search overhaul is secret no more

August 11, 2009

Competition is heating up in the search world, and Google is not standing still

The world’s No.1 search engine tipped its hands about a stealth project, code named Caffeine, to overhaul the innards of its search engine in a blog post on Monday.  
 
“For the last several months, a large team of Googlers has been working on a secret project: a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search,” read the post.

The work will allow Google to “push the envelope” on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions, read the post.

For a project that affects so important a part of Google’s business (Google derives 97 percent of its revenue from advertising, almost all of which comes from the ads that appear alongside search results, say analysts), Google broke the news in a surprisingly low-key manner.

The Caffeine post was not on Google’s main corporate blog, but on a Google blog dedicated to Webmasters and developers. And information about what the actual changes entailed were vague.

The work comes as Microsoft has doubled-down on its search efforts with its new Bing search engine, backed by a $100 million ad campaign, and its search partnership with Yahoo.

Meanwhile, real time search capabilities such as those offered on Twitter are increasingly in vogue. On Monday, Facebook acquired FriendFeed, in a move that could allow the social networking powerhouse to make a push into the real time search game.

In a post on his personal blog, Google engineer Matt Cutts said Caffeine was not a response to other companies.

“I love competition in search and wants lots of it, but his change has been in the works for months,” wrote Cutts.

He said many users won’t notice the difference from Caffeine, as the project will not change the user interface of Google’s search engine.

“This update is primarily under the hood: we’re rewiring the foundation of some of our infrastructure,” Cutts said.

Test drive the Caffeine preview for yourself here and see if you can tell the difference. 

Photo: CHRISTIAN HARTMANN/Reuters

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