Google’s Caffeine Finally Live

After months (has it already been a year?) of hand-wringing and speculation in the search industry, Google finally announced Caffeine is live. It’s an appropriate name for the update, since it seems like Google’s been injected with a jolt of the good stuff to produce faster, fresher results.

Here’s a nice, concise breakdown of what Caffeine is and how it impacts search results:

What it is: Google’s new web indexing system that provides fresher (newer) and more results than the previous system. Searchers should be able to find content much sooner after it is posted than previously.

Background Information: When you search for something in Google, you are not actually searching the “live” web, you are instead searching Google’s index of the web. Think of it as a library: Google’s search engine is the librarian that returns all of the relevant results it can find.

Why did Google create Caffeine: Web content is growing exponentially in size and in variety (use of images, videos, real time, etc). Publishers of web content expect the content to be quickly accessible, and searchers expect the same. In short, Caffeine was built to keep up with the evolution of the web and the rising expectations of those who use it.

Differences between the old index and Caffeine: The old index had several layers, some of which were refreshed more rapidly than others. To refresh any given layer of the old index, Google engineers would have to analyze the entire web (making a large delay in information release).

Caffeine is not set up in layers, but in spheres. This way the web can be analyzed in small portions, and updated continuously and globally. As Google finds new pages or new information on existing pages it adds it straight to the index, allowing for instantaneous indexing and searchability.

Conclusion: Caffeine allows for the indexing of web pages on an enormous scale by processing hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel each second. It is a big step in allowing the exponential growth of online data that is published by websites to be added to Google’s index and made more accessible to searchers.

-Alie Sockol

bing vs. Google

Alhough Google has defined and become synonymous with search – most people say they are “googling” something when they use any kind of search engine – bing is proving to be a serious contender in the fight to be the search engine of the people.  bing is slowly insinuating its way into our lives through these examples:

Through these channels, I predict that bing will “own” approximately 25-35% share of the search market by sometime in 2011.  In other words, 25-35% of us will probably be using bing, if not on purpose, then by default.  I’ve found it to be a very functional platform and it almost seems as though it’s “hipper” than Google, which has recently been embroiled in privacy concerns.  (Of course bing is a Microsoft product, which many view as monopolizing technology in general) What are your thoughts?

-Mary Smucker-Priest

Google Local Business Becomes Google Places

Last week Google decided to change the name of Google Local Business Center to Google Places. Google made this decision based on the idea that Google Place Pages will better connect with the place where local business information is claimed, entered and enhanced.

Along with the name change, come a few more changes. Specifically, Google Places allows businesses to put more information in their local listings, shows coupons and “real-time” updates alongside local listings, offers free interior photographs by Google and boasts a new Help Center for businesses. Additionally, Google Places provides stats on the click-through rate of the listing.

What do you think of these changes? Do you think they’ll help businesses gain more exposure and encourage engagement with customers?

Psst: Google’s Stalking You

Last week Google launched AdWords’ Remarketing, which is basically a new way for a company to stalk a potential customer with an ad until she caves and buys.

It works like this: A potential customer followed an ad from a paid Google search listing, but while on the page of that site, she decides not to commit to finalizing the conversion. She leaves the page and continues browsing within Google’s content network. Then, AdWords’ Remarketing kicks in and a similar ad for the same product/service pops up.

AdWords publishers who are running these ads are hoping that the ads will follow a potential consumer so much that user will change her mind and finalize an ad conversion.

The AdWords’ feature allows a publisher to embed a code into her website that triggers her AdWords ad to show related ads to a potential customer after leaving her site without converting, provided that the user goes on to visit another Google site.

What do you think of Google AdWords’ Remarketing? Will you use it?

Facebook > Google

Last week, Facebook ended a year of remarkable growth by overtaking Google’s popularity among US internet users. Last week’s industry data shows Facebook scored more visits on its home page than the search engine’s homepage.

Research firm Hitwise said that the two sites accounted for 14% of all US internet visits last week. Facebook’s home page recorded 7.07% of traffic and Google’s home page recorded 7.03%.

Although the difference is small, the implications are HUGE. This takeover is a sign that the web is becoming more sociable than searchable, and Facebook’s popularity is going to continue to grow rapidly. Do you agree? Do you think Facebook will soar ahead of in the coming months?