Google now using more “lab rats” than ever before

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The latest search engine ranking report shows Google handled 13 billion search queries last month, more than any previous month. Given their practice of continuously testing their users’ search behavior, they now have more experimental data than ever before.

It’s no secret that Google is constantly testing. In an article from Wired, Google quality engineer Patrick Riley states, “On most Google queries, you’re actually in multiple control or experimental groups simultaneously. Essentially, all the queries are involved in some test.” Google includes any visitors to its website in these trials.

Google is not the only search engine to utilize this approach. Bing has tested the color used on their search result links and got results conclusive enough to implement a side-wide change on all links. The new color is reportedly worth $80 million in additional revenue.

Every time a test is run it must be statistically analyzed to ensure the results are significant, and not just a coincidence. Google’s 419 million queries per day give it enough power to run more tests than its competitors. By performing an analysis with these numbers, it’s possible that a test could be run and completed within a few seconds. Up to 500,000 different tests could be performed every single day. By Jon Correll

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