On September 8th Google released a new feature for their search engine: Google instant.
If you haven’t seen it yet, there is an introduction on Youtube that is worth spending 1:41 minutes on.
Simply put, Google instant is a new way of displaying results and helping users find information faster. As you type, results will be presented in the background. In most cases it is enough to write two or three characters and the results you expect are already right in front of you.
The Swedish site Prisjakt has been using this for years, helping the users to get a better precision in their searches.
At Google you have previously been guided by “query suggestion” i.e. you got suggestions of what others have searched for before – a function also used by other search engines such as Bing (called Type Ahead). Google instant is taking it one step further.
When looking at what the blog community has to say about the new feature it seems to split the users in two groups; you either hate it or love it.
So, what are the consequences? From an end-user perspective we will most likely stop typing if something interesting appears that draws our attention. The result?
The search results shown at the very top will generate more traffic , it will be more personalized over time and we will most probably be better at phrasing our queries better.
From an advertising perspective, this will most likely affect the way people work with search engine optimization. Some experts, like Steve Rubel, claims Google instant will make SEO irrelevant, wheas others, like Matt Cutts think it will change people behavior in a positive way over time and explains why.
What Google is doing is something that they constantly do: change the way we consume information. So what is the next step?
CNN summarizes what the Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google says:
“The next step of search is doing this automatically. When I walk down the street, I want my smartphone to be doing searches constantly: ‘Did you know … ?’ ‘Did you know … ?’ ‘Did you know … ?’ ‘Did you know … ?’ ”
Schmidt said at the IFA consumer electronics event in Berlin, Germany, this week.
“This notion of autonomous search — to tell me things I didn’t know but am probably interested in — is the next great stage, in my view, of search.”
Do you agree? Can we predict what the users want from search? Is this the sort of functionality that we want to use on the web and behind the firewall?