Google Results for the Impatient

Google launched its “instant” search today, touting its ability to speed up the search experience so much that it will save its users 111 years per day.

Google Instant Search Results

But what is it?

Google Instant predicts what you are searching for based on the partial search phrase you have typed in and instantly provides the search results. As you continue to type the search phrase, the search results continue to update.

The idea is that Google can predict and deliver what you are looking for before you’ve finished typing the search phrase, saving you from having to type the whole phrase or hit that pesky search button.

For instance, if I search for “atlanta hotels”, the moment I type “a”, the results come back with “amazon”. I add the next “t” and the results update to “at&t”. When I add the “l”  the results are for “Atlanta” and if I complete the word and add a space to signify I’m adding another word, the results come back with “atlanta braves”.

I only have to type “atlanta ho” (no snickering) for Google to predict that I’m searching for “Atlanta Hotels”. It’s that time saving (in my case, of not having to type 4 letters) that Google says will give us the most time savings since the invention of the washing machine.

Potential problems?

Although Google has promised faster searches (the stated 2-5 seconds per search seems high) it could be that repeatedly loading  search results that contain images might actually slow the search process down. Searches that bring back Google Images and YouTube results, such as searching for a celebrity like Lady Gaga,  will have to render the thumbnail images for those Google image photos and YouTube videos. I also don’t know if it was just me but, despite testing on two computers in two different locations,  I found a lag when typing into the search box (maybe Google’s trying to emulate my iPhone).

Distracting Wonderbra AdFurthermore, I wonder whether Google Instant could result in a change in search habits in the way that TV adverts reduce our ability to maintain concentration on the programme we’re watching. Might users become sidetracked by unrelated results that come up mid-search query? Say I’m searching for “jenny craig”, would the pictures of Jennifer Aniston when I’m only 3 letters into “jennifer” distract me and send me looking at different sites, therefore slowing down the speed of my original search?

Although Google Instant has started rolling out today, it may only be users logged into their Google Account who get to see Google Instant at the moment. Google promises to roll it out for everyone over the next little while.

Let me know what you think of it.

4 Comments on 'Google Results for the Impatient'

  1. I wonder how many people will actually see the results change as they type.

    The reason I say this is watch most people type and you will see that the average person still watches the keyboard instead of the screen so they will most likely miss the results changing.

    For me I cannot yet say whether it will affect me all that much. I do use the suggestions that Google previously offered when searching so I am really not sure if this will change my personal surfing habits. That being said I always am a fan of change and innovation, so it gets a thumbs up from me (and so does picture above…no not Nick’s photo)

  2. That’s an interesting observation Chris. Computers are now an accepted and expected part of the school learning experience so we’re definitely moving towards a world where the majority of people will be able to touch type. Maybe it’ll be more effective then.

    I typically don’t use the suggestions that Google provides because I can usually find what I’m looking for in one attempt. If it takes much longer than that, the chances are that its really obscure and Google’s autosuggest won’t be much help. Having said that, my search behaviour is based on my knowledge of SEO and a lot of daily use of Google in my job. I might well be atypical to the general public in that respect.

  3. One thing I do know is that with instant search and if I were in grade 7 and doing a report on Brazil, I probably wouldn’t get that report done.

  4. Google has deliberately removed the instant results capability for certain phrases that people could consider offensive. “bra” isn’t one of those. Mind you, even if it was, you’d have trouble getting your kid to stop playing on Club Penguin to do his Brazil report.

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