Did you hear? Google’s launching a new, upgraded version of its search engine soon. And just as important, the search giant released the developer’s preview of it today. Google promises that the new search tool (codename “Caffeine”) will improve the speed, accuracy, size, and comprehensiveness of Google search.
While the developer version is a pre-beta release, it’s completely usable. Thus, we’ve decided to put the new Google search through the wringer. We took the developer version for a spin and compared it to not only the current version of Google Search, but to Bing as well.
The categories we tested the new search engine on are as follows: speed, accuracy, temporal relevancy, and index size. Here’s how we define those:
Speed: How fast can the new search engine load results?
Accuracy: Which set of results is more accurate to the search term?
Temporal Relevancy: Is one version of search better at capturing breaking news?
Index Size: Is it really more comprehensive than the last version of Google?
So without further ado, here’s the test:
The first category is incredibly important. How fast do these Google search results come at you anyway? Even a tenth of a second can mean millions for the search company as the longer it takes the load, the more likely someone will go look for results somewhere else.
So how fast is the new search? Lightning fast. As you probably know, Google tells you how long it takes to load results. We tried a few search terms, starting with “Dog.” Here’s the speed result:
Compare that to the original Google search:
0.12 vs. 0.25 seconds? They doubled the speed! That’s tremendous. We tried it with a variety of search terms (”The end of the universe is not here,” “There is no way that you cannot find ben parr. He is hiding back behind the tv,” “FriendFeed ,” etc.), and in every instance, the new Google won.
The only potential weak spot was when we added search commands like quotes, subtraction signs, and more. In this case, it was a 50/50 shot as to which Google search was faster.
As for comparing it to Bing: Well, they don’t display how fast it generates results. It’ll have to sit out this speed test for now.
Winner: The New Google
While more subjective, accuracy is probably the issue that users care about most. Does the search engine find what you want on the first try? Well, we did our subjective test. New version:
You’ll notice that many of the blended search options, like image search and news, don’t appear in the new version. It’s more likely that the features haven’t all been implemented, but it does decrease its relevancy. FriendFeed ranks much higher in the new search than Twitter or Facebook. Our bet is that the new Google has seen a burst of activity on FriendFeed and thus pushes up that result.
Both sets are very accurate, but subjectively, the set displayed by the new Google search more accurately reflect what a user would be looking for. If you’re wondering about Bing, it didn’t even bring up my personal website.
The new search cares more about keywords than the last. You could clearly see it cared about the full title and brought up more results with those keywords. Both brought a different set of results, but the new search was more relevant.
Winner: The New Google (tentatively)
3. Temporal Relevancy
How good is each at breaking news? The answer: about the same. FriendFeed results were identical, including the top news items. Searches for “Hall of Fame Game” got better news results on the new search. A search for “China Landslide” also got the same Yahoo and BBC news articles – although we did notice that the new search seems to change faster with new articles. It put an MSNBC article up high for updating the death toll:
We also give credit to Bing – on each search, it brought up great results.
4. Index Size:
Perhaps the easiest to test, we can tell the index size based on how many results come up for specific search. Here are searches once again for “dog:”
Searches for “Ben Parr” proved that the new Google is better than the old Google in terms of result size. Bing claims 2,210,000 for my name compared to 183,000 for my name, which is strange. Searches for “Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland Trailer” also show Bing > New Google > Old Google
Winner: Bing, it seems
While this test was nowhere near scientific, we do have some solid takeaways:
New Google is FAST: It often doubled the speed of Google classic.
New Google relies more on keywords: SEO professionals, your job just got a lot harder. The algorithm’s definitely different. It has more reliance on keyword strings to produce better results.
Search is moving into real-time: Being able to get info on breaking events is clearly a priority for Google and Bing. With both Twitter () and Facebook () launching real-time search engines, they needed to respond.
It’s partially a response to Bing: At least, that’s how we feel. This new search has a focus on increasing speed, relevancy, accuracy, and the index volume, things that Microsoft really hit on when it released Bing. It feels as if Google “Caffeine” is meant to shore up any deficiencies it may have when compared to Microsoft’s offering, though it’s been in the works long before Bing launched.
The new Google will only get better as features are implemented and developed. The end result is a better search experience for the user. Competition really does breed innovation.
Google has a giant target on its back. Microsoft has been on a spending and deal-making spree to grow Bing, recently signing a huge search deal with Yahoo. And with Bing starting to steal some market share from Google, it’s proving to be a formidable opponent. Oh, and now you can’t count out Facebook either, which just launched a new realtime search engine.
Google’s not taking any of this lying down. Secretly, they’ve been working on a new project: the next generation of Google Search. This isn’t just some minor upgrade, but an entire new infrastructure for the world’s largest search engine. In other words: it’s a new version of Google.
The project’s still under construction, but Google’s now confident enough in the new version of its search engine that it has released the development version for public consumption. While you won’t see too many differences immediately, let us assure you: it’s a completely upgraded Google search.
Google specifically states that its goal for the new version of Google Search is to improve its indexing speed, accuracy, size, and comprehensiveness. Here’s what they 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.”
Trying Out the New Search
We just tried out the the new version of Google, and we will say this: the results are different. Let’s compare, using the keyword “Mashable ()” as a reference point.
First, the current version of Google:
And the new version of Google Search:
Conclusion: This search is not only faster, but in some instances in our few tests, seems more capable of producing real-time results. It’s still way too early to make any definitive conclusions about this new search, but we will test it out thoroughly and give you a full report soon. In the meantime, try it out for yourself and tell us what you think.
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