Google recently unveiled Google Instant, which displays search results to a user as they type. The benefits of these changes, according to Google, are as follows…
- Predictive Typing: As you type, a prediction is made of what you are seeking.
- Instant Results: As you type, the results appear. Every new character updates the search results instantly.
The end result that Google promises is 10% faster searches. Google states the average search takes 25 seconds — 9 to enter in the query, less than one for Google to process and display the results, and 15 seconds for the user to decide and select a link. So shaving off 2.5 seconds is considerably faster. Is it true? Try it out yourself and watch a live presentation of Google Instant in action.
Technically speaking, the predictive type and “instant results” aren’t new technologies. Bing and Yahoo both rolled out predictive type solutions to their search input field several months ago. Apple has had an instant results in its search results drop-down box, which it dubs “live search”. In other words, as you type, it produces “live” search results.
What is new, however, is the combination and scale of these technologies. Google has applied these technologies — predictive and live results — to the world’s information. In other words, you can scan billions of potential results instantly while you type. Rather than typing the full search term, hitting return, and waiting (however briefly), you now get results “instantly” updated as each new character is typed.
5 Ways How Google Instant Changes the Game for Search Marketers
There are several critical implications that need to be considered by search marketers.
- Brevity is the soul of wit: Search engine users now have a reason to reduce their attention time even further — instant results as you type. Keep your copy brief, to the point, and able to grab their attention. If a searcher can’t scan and find what they are seeking, they are only one keystroke away from an entire new search results page of options.
- Impression counts may increase: If results, both organic and sponsored, are updated and presented as the user types, what is considered an impression? Is an impression the milliseconds between typing words, or is it a pause greater than 1 second in typing, or is it a movement of the mouse? Google provides some guidance on this: 1) the person types a query into the search box and either presses the Enter key or clicks on the “Search” button (just like it has been historically); 2) the person starts to type their query, sees a results page displayed and clicks anywhere on that page (i.e. it registers an impression when the user selects a link from that page); and 3) the person stops typing and the results are displayed for three seconds or more, implying the searcher is scanning the results page. Regardless, we advise all search marketers to monitor their AdWords accounts closely in the next few weeks.
- Your competition list just got longer: No longer is your competition the other websites that rank for your target or niche keyphrase term, like “tankless water heater“. Rather, it is also the shorter phrases, like “tankless” and “tankless water” that now also appear as the user types in their full search phrase. Each phrase presents a new layer of competition for you to now consider. In other words, your success with “long tail keywords” is now being challenged by the shorter tail keywords that precede it.
- Predictive search = keyword research: Don’t know if you should focus your campaign on “steakhouse” vs. “steak houses” vs. “steak house”? Look to predictive search. The term that appears first is probably the most common search result, and the one you should consider targeting.
- Real-time is the new fast: Web users will soon expect all websites to be as responsive as Google. In other words, a 2 second load time is probably 1.5 seconds too long. Your search strategy should include considerations for ongoing load-time and performance tests to ensure the page consistently loads in a snap.
What do you think of the new Google Instant results? How are you changing your search strategy to respond to this significant change?
David Felfoldi is the chief experience officer and founder of Sherpa! Web Studios, a search-friendly web design and development firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to make the Web a better experience, including for people who write emails in all capital letters.