Significant updates in the way Google searches – Code named ‘Caffeine’

This may have been billed as the single biggest change to Google’s search algorithm in years but thankfully it largely went un-noticed.

I have to admit though that having heard that Google had suddenly announced the changes (seemingly to counter the prominent publicity Bing had been receiving in the press over the previous few days) that a good number of us here in the office temporarily regressed back to that fateful day on the 16th November 2003 when Google catastrophically altered its search algorithm and in doing so caused huge numbers of large sites to disappear completely from their search results – effectively turning search optimisation on its head! (see Florida Dance).

All however is well in the land of Google and the search results placement we all so rely upon.

In a nutshell, here is what the hype is all about:

What exactly have Google done?

According to Matt Cutts, they are constantly reviewing the complex code that makes up the search algorithms. Anecdotally stated that the shelf life for a piece of search code is no more than six months. With Google so keen to keep on top of the game they take very seriously the performance of their code – always trying to make it faster, more robust and elegant.

How can I see what the changes will look like?

Thankfully we found the link to check this out. http://www2.sandbox.google.com Here you’ll be able to get a preview of how the search results will change over the coming weeks. Phew, we’re still up there at number one for ‘Website Design Lincolnshire’. Hurrah!

Okay, it doesn’t really look any different to me

Thankfully not. Apparently there have been no Usability Interface changes, even us hardcore users at TJS didn’t really notice much had changed either. It’s all supposed to have changed under the bonnet. Google decided to open up the sandbox preview to enable visitors to see what effects have been felt and send in their comments.

Is it just a little bit of a coincidence that Google announced it when they did?

I have my suspicions! With the recent media hype surrounding MSN and Yahoo! I suspect that it even if this new update was on the cards the timely announcement did help to take the wind out of the oppositions sails somewhat.

Further Reading

If you want to know more about Google updates and what constitutes a data refresh versus algorithm change versus a major change in infrastructure here are a few links:

Google Algorithm Data Refreshes

What is an ‘update’

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