Just a couple of days after Google finally confirmed that Caffeine had gone live, they have brought colour and life to their homepage. The Bing-ification of Google continues.
After introducing a left-hand navigation [see: The Changing Anatomy of a Google Search Page], which had more than a passing resemblance to Bing’s, it looks like Google have been borrowing from their Microsoft rivals again. Today the world woke up to a full colour Google homepage. The white background has been replaced by a rolling reel of photography.
More significantly though is the news that Google Caffeine is now live [see: Our new search index: Caffeine | Official Google Blog]. This means that results could start to change for some sites, although indexing should certainly improve.
Caffeine has been designed to speed up the Internet. In the past Google would only index sites once a month; now, thanks to huge new data centres, they can do it in minutes. The speed of results should also improve too, delivering content to searchers almost instantly. This should certainly bring freshness to their SERPs.
Unfortunately some sites will still have their pages indexed quicker than others. Matt Cutts suggests that PageRank might be one factor that is taken into consideration when prioritising indexing. So for strong sites who regularly update their content, this could well prove more beneficial than for those who don’t. For example news sites who publish dozens of stories each day
Whilst this is the official global roll-out of Caffeine, it may actually have been in action for months here in Europe [see: Could Europe Be the Next Stop for Google Caffeine]. Until more in-depth testing is done and traffic comparisons over time are made, a judgement on how sites could be affected is difficult.
As for the homepage, well this customisable new feature will certainly please some. Gimmicky it may be, but iGoogle has had customisable skins for some time so why not Google itself? The cynic in me suggests this is just another way for Google to make sure users stay signed in (i.e. so they can see their own personal images), allowing for easier monitoring; but maybe they’re just bored of a plain white background.