On Wednesday, Google launched Google Instant, a predictive search enhancement that displays results as you type. To celebrate its release, we’ve created a nifty online game: Google Instant Roulette. Try it out! There are still, however, some important unanswered questions: is Google’s latest creation a wonder of web technology or an unwelcome distraction? Can users adapt easily to such a significant interface change in their beloved search engine? How fundamentally will it affect SEO and Search Marketing Practice?
Google are pushing Google Instant primarily as a time saving device. They say “If everyone uses Google Instant globally, we estimate this will save more than 3.5 billion seconds a day. That’s 11 hours saved every second.” This is an impressive statistic. At Organic Development we’re all in favour of increasing productivity, but not if this increase does anything to negatively affect user experience. When you type a search query in Instant, new results flash up after every letter, which we think has the potential to be somewhat distracting. First because the flashing is somewhat epilepsy-inducing, and second because you may well find yourself delving into irrelevant results brought up by the first couple of letters of your search term.
Others have criticised Instant not in terms of its usability but by suggesting its announcement was anticlimactic. It’s true that instant search, also known as incremental search, is not a new idea; sites such as keyboardr have long been providing a similar service. However, Instant is very different to the services which have preceded it. Our search expert Ross explains: “Since keyboardr is only communicating with its Google API, it’s working from a cache and not from direct data. This effectively means keyboardr doesn’t need to do the heavy-lifting work that Instant needs to do. Instant’s super-quick exchanges of information with data centres makes it an extremely impressive technical feat.”
If this recent Mashable poll is anything to go by, community response to Google Instant is still very much mixed. It seems that users need a bit more time to decide whether or not Instant is a change is for the better.
While you’re deciding for youself, be sure to try your luck on our game!