Google is asking for your help checking out its tweaks to its search engine---not that you'll notice much difference. These Google search changes would usually happen behind the scenes without much fanfare. So what's this about? Perception.
In a blog post, Google wrote:
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. It's the first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness and other dimensions. The new infrastructure sits "under the hood" of Google's search engine, which means that 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.
Needless to say that Techmeme is all aflutter. It's great that Google is asking for feedback. Some folks say that the latest Google tweaks are faster and illustrate the search giant's focus on technology. Others are focused on real-time indexing of Twitter and SEO. I'm in the camp that can't find much difference. On topics near and dear to me like "antibiotics and Lyme disease"---I'm taking enough antibiotics right now to kill a horse---the results are about the same. Maybe something gets moved here and there, but overall it's the same old Google results.
So what's this really about? Perception. Microsoft with Bing made much ado about its search engine tweaks. Microsoft focused on a few key verticals, got good reviews and cut a deal with Yahoo. If Bing were still named Live Search we wouldn't notice what Microsoft changed.
And then there was Wolfram Alpha, which was going to change the search world and potentially sneak up on Google. Wolfram Alpha claims to give you intelligence not just blue links. Bing claims the same thing.
Google's lesson through all of this. Google can't quietly innovate anymore. It has to yap about it---at least a little. It's about perception AND technology. Enter this Caffeine project.