Steven Gradidge. Hi :)

Google Instant Search – A Possible Thorn In SEO’s Side?

Posted on: February 27, 2011

Google this week released its new search service, Google Instant Search. It displays live search results as you type by providing results even before you have hit the ‘return’ key. Google claims users will save two to five seconds per search and that it will save 11 hours of search every second!

Are we really that impatient to wait a matter of seconds for our search results? What’s feeding our need for speed search results and why does Google feel that they need to answer our questions before we have even asked them? Will this deliver better search results?

The flow of information on the web has accelerated fourfold over recent years. To Internet users, this has been most evident in the ‘real-time web’ movement in services like Twitter and Facebook that deliver messages within seconds about to our friends. In short, these quick status updates between connections have conditioned us to expect immediate and autonomous access to information and news. What’s more is that many social networks now use our social connections (e.g. Facebook Connect) to recommend content to us without us even needing to find it ourselves.

Social networking services have harboured another change in consumer behaviour; one that has made Googleplay catch-up. As a greater volume of timely, relevant information is delivered to us via status updates from friends, we spend less time searching. After all, why should we expect anything less from search engines?

The first thing you will notice when using Instant Search is that the SERP will be flickering in tune to your typing. First impressions render this as particularly distracting and annoying. It is almost like being constantly interrupted when trying to ask a question and don’t we just love that?!

I also found that the more specific the search is, the more I want Google to leave me alone to complete the search query myself but thankfully Google have implemented a ‘turn-off’ option for those who are not quite yet willing to fully indulge in the delights of predictive search results. For those that are just quaintly luddited and not going gaga for Google’s latest creation, rest assured the new technology doesn’t impact the ranking of search results (directly anyway!).

However the new system does mean that it will be more difficult for SEO analysts to work out which results will do well from which query because the results will keep changing as the user types. It will also be more of a struggle to examine the results mechanically (i.e. via Google Analytics). This makes having your website optimised even more imperative than ever. Once again, another bar raiser from Google (See my other post on the Gmail Priority Inbox).

Google have certainly taken the concept of autonomous knowledge to a whole new level with Instant Search. Personally, Google Instant looks more applicable to the mobile platform which we are told will be released very soon so we will wait in earnest anticipation until then…


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