Search giant Google has completed a major overhaul of its system for indexing content on the Web, an upgrade the company promises will deliver more recent and relevant search results.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is claiming that the new indexing system, dubbed Caffeine, will retrieve Web content that is 50 percent fresher than its previous efforts thanks to a new approach that constantly feeds new pages and updates to existing ones into the company's database.
This is especially encouraging news for online advertisers and marketers who will now be able to place ads and information next to more relevant and timely results. With information pouring in from social networks, blogs and online content providers on a second-by-second basis, this improved indexing system will raise the bar for search engine optimization.
Google software engineer Carrie Grimes explained that the new index comes in response to both the proliferation of online content and the new types of media that populate increasingly elaborate sites on the Web.
"Content on the Web is blossoming," Grimes said in a blog post. "It's growing not just in size and numbers but with the advent of video, images, news and real-time updates, the average Web page is richer and more complex."
Performing a Google search, or using any search engine, for that matter, queries the provider's snapshot of the Web, organized in an index and ranked by complex algorithms that analyze numerous attributes of the page. That means that the content presented to a user by a search query is only as fresh as the index.
"When you search Google, you're not searching the live Web," Grimes said. "Instead you're searching Google's index of the Web which, like the list in the back of a book, helps you pinpoint exactly the information you need."
If the results are fresher and more accurate, advertisers will be even more inclined to send their business Google's way.
Google first announced plans to overhaul its search-index architecture last August, when it invited Webmasters to take Caffeine for a trial run and provide feedback.
With Caffeine, Google is taking a more piecemeal approach to indexing the Web than its prior system.
Under the old method, Google's index sorted content by layers, typically updating the main segment a couple times a month. But Grimes explained that updating a layer required a fresh analysis of the entire Web, a time-consuming process that would often delay the availability of new content that Google's spiders discovered.
With Caffeine, Google is trying to cut out the lag time by dividing the Web into smaller portions and continuously feeding new pages and updates into its index.
Efforts to put the enormity of information in Google's index in relatable terms can be instructive. Grimes said that Caffeine's parallel-processing technique indexes hundreds of thousands of pages each second. "If this were a pile of paper it would grow three miles taller every second," she said.