Posted September 8, 2010 2:23 pm by with 9 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Google today has announced the widespread use of their new Google Instant technology, which shows that maybe the search giant really does know what you are thinking or what you SHOULD be thinking.

The premise of the new approach to search is that while you type your query Google is showing you results on the go. The results change as you add more to the search string and the suggestions for what you really might be looking for are always changing below your input.

Here is Google’s presentation of the new service in classic Google video format.

The post over at the Official Google Blog trumpets

Search as you type. It’s a simple and straightforward idea—people can get results as they type their queries. Imagining the future of search, the idea of being able to search for partial queries or provide some interactive feedback while searching has come up more than a few times. Along the way, we’ve even built quite a few demos (notably, Amit Patel in 1999 and Nikhil Bhatla in 2003). Our search-as-you-type demos were thought-provoking—fun, fast and interactive—but fundamentally flawed. Why? Because you don’t really want search-as-you-type (no one wants search results for [bike h] in the process of searching for [bike helmets]). You really want search-before-you-type—that is, you want results for the most likely search given what you have already typed.

Here’s my take. I don’t like it. The constant changing of the screen from the search suggest to the actual results changing on the fly practically gives me motion sickness. I’m all for saving time but if I need to take a Dramamine tablet before I Google something that won’t be very productive. If you are really trying to keep track watch the Adwords advertisers change on the fly. That’ll make some paid search manager’s head spin. If you want to give it a whirl go ahead.

Of course, I am being a bit facetious but I am really not a fan of this ‘improvement’. I am sure there will be two distinct camps on this one but the difference here is that Google is experimenting with its bread and butter. If someone decides that the new look isn’t for them it could be impetus to give bing a try. I tend to come from the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school but that’s not how things work in the Internet era. As a result you get more miscues than many are accustomed to and more than a few huge gaffes (think New Coke formula level of screw up) that can create more trouble than it’s worth.

So what is your take on this new approach to search? Are happy, sad or indifferent? Does this even matter in the grand scheme of things?

  • Cynthia

    I’m not sure I’m sold on this idea. The jumping text on the page gives me a headache! And what are we really gaining, not having to hit the enter key?

  • Kind of pointless unless you’re just wandering the intertubes all lost.
    Plus, I find I tend to input the info too quick for the page to do much changing anyway.

    • Cynthia

      I think that anybody reading this post isn’t the audience that Google is aiming at with this thing. My husband, who is a one finger typist thought it was cool. Me, not so much

  • Many of the testers Google interviewed liked the punchiness of Instant. That it provided them with the information they were looking for, without even having to leave the SERP.

    I think we’ll see Google Instant continue to evolve as more people use it. Ultimately, I think it is going to make people use search queries that are much more refined, as Google’s prediction engine doesn’t always return what a person is ultimately seeking after entering just a few characters.

    Long live the long tail!

  • Lets not forget this is just for Google Account users, not the main stream public really. How many searchers on Google are Google Account holders versus someone like my mom or dad that has no idea what a Google Account it?

    • @Jaan – Good point. It was also pointed out to me that many Google account users do initial searches out of the search box in their browser as well (me included) so this would only take effect when there is a refining of that search on Google itself.

      Also, found out that if you turn it off there seems to be no way to turn it back on for now at least. Anyone else seen that?

  • Tom

    Next step: they start to sell the suggestions to advertisers…

  • Not an improvement in my book. Google Suggests was helpful to everyone. Google Instant will hinder some. Readers with low literacy, low vision and many with even slight A.D.D. struggle with moving content.

  • It needs a bit of refining, take “lead figures”, I type “le” and I get lots of hits about the city of leeds, type “lead” and I get leadership training, it’s not till I get to “lead fi” that things start to take shape.

    Thing is this is easy for them to fix…

    Don’t give us the results “instantly” until they are homed in more, once those figures start to go below a certain number they can better guess and give us the “instant” result.

    le – gives possible results of 38,000,000 pages
    lead – gives possible results of 525,000 pages.

    When those figures are that high stop jumping around on every key stroke (I can touch type) or at least update after a typing pause; When using it for more than 3 minutes I start to feel a headache coming on.