Dubbed “search at the speed of thought”, Google Instant is a major update to the search engine. Google Instant attempts to predict queries and delivers results in real time as the user types each letter, speeding up the amount of time users spend searching.
Google said: “Our goal is to make finding information faster, and every second counts.
“We learned with Google Suggest that dynamically predicting what people search for reduces the time it takes to enter a typical query by 50 per cent.
“We’ve known for a long time that if we could predict queries, we could also predict results, but we faced a number of design and technical challenges before we could make this a reality.
“With Google Instant, you don’t even need to finish typing or hit the enter key to search.”
But some have noted that this update could change the shape of SEO, as more companies try to list their websites for first letter results.
Tom Foremski of Zdnet conducted an experiment by searching the alphabet, which shows how big businesses dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs).
His search returned the following:
A is for … Amazon, AOL, Apple, ATT.
B is for … BART, Bank of America, Best Buy, Bing.
C is for … Craigslist, Costco, CNN, Chase.
D is for … DMV, Dictionary, Droid X, Disneyland.
E is for … Ebay, ESPN, Expedia, Evite.
F is for … Facebook, Facebook login, Fandango, FIFA.
G is for … Gmail, Google maps, Google, Great America.
H is for … Hotmail, Hulu, Home Depot, HP.
I is for … Iphone, Ikea, Inception, IMDB.
J is for … Jet Blue, Jeremy Lin, Jamba Juice, Java.
K is for … Kaiser, KTUV, Kayak, Kohls.
L is for … Lowes, Lost, LinkedIn, Limewire.
M is for … Mapquest, Myspace, MSN, Maps.
N is for … Netflix, Nordstrom, NBA, News.
O is for …Outsidelands, Orbitz, OSH, Office Depot.
P is for … Pandora, PG&E, Paypal, Petco.
Q is for … Quotes, QVC, Quicktime, Quinoa.
R is for … REI, Ross, Redfin, Rosh Hashanah.
S is for … Skype, SFGate, Sears, Southwest.
T is for … Target, Twitter, Thesaurus, Travelocity.
U is for … USPS, UPS, United Airlines, Utube.
V is for … Verizon, Virgin America, VLC, Verizon Wireless.
W is for … Weather, Walmart, Wells Fargo, Wikipedia.
X is for … Xbox, XKCD, XM Radio, Xfinity.
Y is for … Yahoo, Youtube, Yahoo Mail, Yelp.
Z is for … Zillow, Zappos, Zipcodes, Zynga.
Google’s senior staff software engineer for Google Instant, Othar Hansson, addressed the issue: “Our overall metrics show the users still get results they are looking for. Some people might be distracted by the results, but normally, they have an actual intent, and they keep searching for that. We haven’t directly analyzed if people are distracted by the top or intermediate results, but if they’re looking for aardvarks and Amazon comes up, if they go shopping at Amazon, I think its a very small effect.”
Tom Foremski also notes that Google may damage the click through rate (CTR) for Adwords adverts on the SERPs: “At the Google launch, the company showed eye tracker data that showed that users were only focused on the search box and the area immediately below it. There was no action to the right of the page where Google’s text ads are shown.”
Google’s head of Adwords, Jon Diorio, said: “It could be a 5% increase or a 5% decrease in average impressions, but it should not change the amount of money advertisers make. If anything, we believe users will be more engaged and drive more value for the advertiser. It shouldn’t change the total number of clicks.”