Google Instant Search: The Future Face of Google Search
It is September 8/2010 and myself, Dave and Steve are waiting patiently for the event to start. At the beginning of the
event the Google staff were talking about the evolution of search (starting in
1950) and finally
Internet search before and after Google. The most intriguing of these info bits was the
matter of fact way they announced Google has reached 1 billion users per week.
This definitely makes the 500 Million users facebook "claims" pale in comparison to the
Google Takes The User Experience to the Next level!
The lead-in to the new product, Google Instant Search,
mentioned Eric Schmidt's
keynote "Autonomous, Fast Search Is ‘Our New Definition" from Berlin’s IFA home electronics event which I covered on the Trail
Google's New Definition of search. Google Instant search uses predicated
search techniques to determine the users search intent. Basically Instant Search is
Suggest on Steroids with a touch of Intellisense (M$ developers have seen this
for years). I have seen similar .NET search
applications, however, as the Google engineers pointed out the scale of this is
massive compared to what I saw in those applications. Of course the results also
didn't change as you typed!
The Google Instant Search page provided the following info about where you
can find this new search and the browsers that support it (it is very browser dependent) . Note
the bold is mine in order to highlight how to get Instant Search results in
Countries where it has not been rolled out... say Ca. for instance.
Instant Search is starting to roll-out to users on Google domains in the US,
UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use the latest browsers (Chrome
v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8). Please note,
users on domains other than Google.com can only access Google Instant if they
are signed in to a Google Account. We will continue to add new domains and
languages over the next several months.
As a developer who understands the computing power needed to scale the architecture to the extent it has been
I was blown away. Not only are the results changing as a you type it is also predicting what you may want with each letter added.
was super fast and search results were changing as the user entered the letters,
however, on my machine I definitely had a bit of lag which did take away from the
effect of the results changing as letters were typed in. Still it wasn't slow to the point where it was
annoying or taking a great deal away from the user experience.
How Instant Search Could Change SEM
The last point that must be made is that this is taking Personalized Search
to another level so the affect on SEM and SEO is hard to say right away. It is
certain that user search behavior has become a much bigger and important part of
the keyword discovery and research phase. I have always been skeptical of one
word query volume because the way it converts suggests that these queries being
treated as traffic may be a mistake. Perhaps the query was edited to a broader
term before the user actually clicked a listing.
SearchEngineLand writer John Ellis's post
Will Google Instant Kill The Long Tail? highlighted the affect instant
search would have on long tail search terms. The affect on the longtail was brought up almost
immediately in the conversation we were having while watching the launch event.
Another glaring change was how AdWords was affected. The first concern was this
could affect impressions which can affect QS (Quality Score) the black-box
that is Google Adwords bid system.
Counting impressions with Google Instant happens in three different ways.
Any click – If the user starts typing, then clicks anywhere
on the page, an impression is counted. Whether that’s an ad,
spell check, or link, it’s counted.
Search Selection – An impression is counted when the search
button is clicked or a user selects a query.
3 Second Rule – When the user stops typing and does nothing
for 3 seconds, an impression is counted
First and foremost as illustrated in the following screencaps Google has
taken large chunks of screen real estate above the fold. This is the equivalent
of Boardwalk in Monopoly. Note how the query refinement/prediction affected the
listings in prime positions on the page. I chose Las Vegas because I had seen
the results in the SEL post and know that "type" of query space will have
characteristics that will trigger Universal Search Listings and Paks of Vertical
results. My screen resolution is 1440 X 900.
1 listing above the fold; 3 ads and map results taking up most of the Prime SERP space and note the ads are all for Las Vegas hotels cheap so
in the data whether that is attributed to Las Vegas hotels; Las Vegas h or Las Vegas hotels will be what I'm looking for in the data.
Note the difference in the relevancy of the ads and the lone editorial/organic
Here is a more traditional type result with 4 listing above the fold and 2 ads
in the Prime SERP space and note the ads are predominantly for Las Vegas hotels
cheap so in the data whether that is attributed to Las Vegas hotels; Las Vegas
hotels c or Las Vegas hotels cheap. I note cheap is in the title of the first
editorial/organic but is in the headline of many more ads.
The SERP space above the fold will vary by the browser; resolution setting
and device. The point is that the space above the fold to hit with SEO targets
are decreasing quickly. Lastly Google said that this will not affect rankings...
right... but they did say that search behavior will change. Yes don't forget
that isn't a metric you find in a tool.
Watch how people search with Instant Search. The time you spend learning
about user behaviprwill provide more actionable information than any tool or
traffic estimator. So hold on kiddies cuz the Steve Rubels of the world will
swear this is the
end of SEO and the
unwashed SEO masses will be flocking to take advantage of the uninformed.