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Google Instant – latest fad or search revolution?

By Rob Drummond on Thu 09 September 2010 in Web Analytics

The new Google Instant seems to have made a large splash. For those who haven’t seen it yet, Google Instant is essentially the same as your regular Google results, only your results update as you type extra words into the search box.

The logic behind Instant is that according to Google’s tests, people take ten times as long to type an extra keystroke as they do to glance at a different part of the page. Google is essentially trying to provide you with faster results, and using their knowledge of how different keywords relate to each other to predict more accurately what you’re looking for as you type it.

What does this mean?

  • For adwords users I believe this should be positive. There is some confusion about how exactly Google calculates an impression, but ultimately the thought is that people will enter more accurate searches before clicking on an ad, meaning that conversion rates improve.
  • Long-tail searches (with longer, more specific phrases) may increase, as people can see in real time whether a shorter search returns the information they are looking for or not.
  • People will scroll down a results page less, instead choosing to edit their search term. The traditional heat map we are used to seeing where eyeball time rarely stretches beyond the first five or six results may become more pronounced. If you consider that for local search terms the organic results are already being pushed down the page by local map listings, it’s going to be increasingly valuable to be ranked highly. (Try searching for ‘pizza shop in [your town]’ and a Google Map should be above the organic results).

What do you think?