The Microsoft Bing-Yahoo partnership has really shaken up the search world. And there is perhaps no company that this pending deal stands to impact more than Google.
That said, many in this industry have postured that Google has nothing to worry about and will continue dominating even if it does nothing to combat this competitive threat. But it seems like Google is feeling the need to innovate and reinforce its leadership in the space.
After what seems years of relative sameness (whether this is perception or reality), everything is either “new” or “improved” on the Google front these days. And they certainly want everyone to know it.
For example, take the recently released beta of Google’s next-generation search infrastructure, code-named Google Caffeine. In the official post on the Google Webmaster blog, there’s a call to developers to test out the beta version and provide feedback on the functionality and the differences between it and the “current” Google.
Visually, there isn’t much difference on the front-end. But it appears the back-end is being redeveloped. As popular blogger and Googler Matt Cutts put it in his post on Caffeine, the changes are primarily all under the hood.
In a video interview done by WebProNews, Cutts elaborated, saying that Google is basically rewriting or re-architecting a large portion of its indexing code. He said it’s quite a big update to the infrastructure, comparing it to the late 2005 “Big Daddy” update.
Despite the sizeable scale of the update, he said most site owners wouldn’t notice a big change in their search results or rankings. Basically, the change will be on the users’ end — the goal is for Google Caffeine to be much more powerful, flexible, and robust that the Google we know today.
In the interview, Cutts also refuted claims that Google has come up with this update in light of the recent happenings in the industry — namely, the pending Bing-Yahoo partnership. Cutts said this has been happening for months. However, seeing that Google’s last major update to its index was almost four years ago, the timing seems a little too convenient.
Whatever the case, it’s doing the trick — optically, Google is seen as an innovator, and functionally, its users are going to get a better search engine.
In addition to the Caffeine update, Google has been busy enhancing many other related areas of its business.
Google Labs has seen some new and interesting additions come in recent succession in the past couple months:
- Google Listen: Lets you aggregate and stream a personalized audio news magazine.
- Google Checkout Store Gadget: Lets you set up and install a store gadget on your site.
- Similar Images: Lets you search for images using other images versus keywords.
- City Tours: Lets you identify attractions and itineraries for touring major cities.
Google Insights for Search has also seen some recent improvements. Aside from the fact that it’s now available in 39 different languages, new features include:
- Forecasting: Extrapolates historical and current values to forecast future trends.
- Animated map: Plots the distribution of search volume geographically.
Google continues to ride the innovation train across its other product lines and offerings, including:
- Launching social elements on iGoogle
- Delivering a new beta of Google Chrome
- Improving the interaction of Google Groups with applications
- Adding new tools to the Google Services for Web sites
With all of these changes on the horizon, no one can claim with a lot of muster that Google isn’t innovating. It has effectively asserted its commitment to ongoing improvement and its dedication to their core business. So now who should be scared?