Google Instant: Faster Than the Speed of Type

posted on 9th Sep 2010

Google have a habit of releasing several products in and around the same time. Over the last few weeks we have had Priority Inbox, Gmail Calls and Realtime. Last night the search firm announced the biggest change to its search function in the form of Google Instant. It promises faster results, saving between 2 and 5 seconds per search. Google has always returned results in milliseconds, so how is it going to save us a couple of seconds? Google identified the weakest link in search – people, we slowed up the search process. Before Instant Google identified the average searcher as spending 9 seconds typing the search query. Google Instant saves time by giving the results before you type. In other words it will take what you are currently typing, predict the search query and stream results in real time. How fast is it? Well type in ‘W’ and the weather automatically appears, it’s that fast. Mashable have released an A-Z of Instant read it here.

According to the Google Blog, Instant will provide;

Dynamic Results – Google dynamically displays relevant search results as you type so you can quickly interact and click through to the web content you need.

Predictions – One of the key technologies in Google Instant is that we predict the rest of your query (in light gray text) before you finish typing. See what you need? Stop typing, look down and find what you’re looking for.

Scroll to search – Scroll through predictions and see results instantly for each as you arrow down.

Here’s the Google Instant video:

This service is being rolled out in the USA first with some European countries to follow in the coming weeks. Ireland is not one, but they have promised the service will be with us in the coming months.

According to Google search engine rankings will not be affected by this new service, it will only provide the information faster. Google have also introduced a 3 second limit to count as an impression for adwords. With results changing as you type, the potential for a lot of advertising to be thrown at the searcher is there, yet they may not even acknowledge the ads because the term is wrong or they are still typing. Thats why a 3 second limit has been introduced, if  a searcher stays on a result for longer than 3 seconds it count as an impression. Cost Per Click hasn’t been affected. With this in mind Econsultancy asked search experts for their opinion on Google Instant.

Faster Than The Speed of Hype?

Having yet to see the service for myself my only worry might be the pace at which the information is presented at users. According to Google the average search query is 20 characters long, which will throw a lot of information very rapidly at the searcher. Google have admitted that it hasn’t gone down well for some users and there is the option to switch it off.

While we won’t get Google Instant for another few months, Mashable are running a poll for American users. Just looking through the comments left by users, it’s really a mixed bag. Some are hailing it as faster, they will never have t hit ‘return’ again, while others are calling it the worst Google product ever. Results for the poll aren’t due until sometime early on Saturday, but it might be worth keeping an eye on.

Google have also released this video to demonstrate the power of Instant. Here the new search tool races against Bob Dylan!