Google have unveiled what may become their next generation in search engines. Code named “Caffeine”, a reflection on the supposed speed of their proposed offering. It is not like Google to release a project that isn’t even at beta stage – perhaps they are a little worried about the Yahoo!-Bing move – or perhaps worried about Bing. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to get a preview although it is only a preview of the Google.com (US) site.
If you open the link to the test site – http://www2.sandbox.google.com – and in another tab/window open google.com – you can compare search results. If you keep getting results from google.co.uk, find the google.com link at the bottom of the page and use that to click through to the US site.
I tried several search terms and really only found a few differences. It’s football season again so I used the SPL (Scottish Premier League) as a search term. SPL brought mixed results but Scottish Premier League showed one interesting change. The top four search results were the same with Wikipedia taking up position four.
The test search site had an article from The Guardian at position five, the .com search site had it at number 10. The remaining entries on the test site, positions six-ten were all news related sites whereas the .com site showed websites that ranked for the keyword.
This could have some big implications down the track for businesses. News, at least latest news seems to take priority in the search results. How this will impact on traffic into the future is going to be interesting. Those who are involved in search engine optimisation are going to have to consider the following implications now:
Reputation management – If the press run with a story that is damaging to your business, are you still going to outrank that story or will your site, and your ability to defend yourself, get buried onto page two?
Blogs – Will this breathe new life into blogs to the extent that to stay on page one, you will need to publish something at least once per day, possibly two or three times a day?
eCommerce – Will users become frustrated when search results show news articles in the results rather than shopping options.
There are many other questions that I am sure will arise if and when Google decide to implement ‘Caffeine’. Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim fame has written a piece on the testing he has done and effect that social media has on the results. It will be interesting to see if he follows up with any reputation management concerns he may have if Google implements ‘Caffeine’ in its present state.
Users do want change when it comes to search results. They want results that are current rather than pages that are 5-10 years old and out of date. That doesn’t mean they want news or social media results. The search engine that can find the middle ground and return results that are relevant will eventually be the big winner in search technology – at present, no one seems to be even coming close.
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