Google Instant – One month later

Written by: Drew Lyon   Austin, Texas

Posted on: October 25, 2010


Over a month ago, Google rolled out it’s latest update to their search platform. All things considered, it’s a fairly substantial shift in the way they view search. The basic idea is built around predictive search–in real time, Google monitors keystrokes and attempts to guess your search query.  Search boxes, including Google’s own,  have been experimenting with predictive search (or ‘auto-fill’) for years. However, Google Instant takes the concept to a new level. With Google Instant enabled (the new default) search results dynamically fill in below the search box.

For example, if you start typing ‘Google in . . .’ you will see (without clicking enter or pressing search):

Google claims that Instant saves it’s cumulative user base, ‘11 hours each second.’

Now that we’ve had several weeks of exposure to Instant, how do I see it impacting the way people use search? Here’s what I’ve noticed…

First impressions…

What’s the big deal? For starters, I perform the majority of my searches using the address bar or search bar rather than Google’s homepage. Searches done in a third party search box do not trigger instant results–so most of the time, I’d never even see them. However, I realize this is only a small percentage of Google’s overall search. Going forward, I’ll start using Google’s homepage to get the full Instant experience.

After a few weeks…

Okay, it’s kind of interesting/distracting. I do find myself passively monitoring Instant results, but rarely (if ever) do I click on them before finishing my search query. Most of the search I perform falls into the category of pre-meditated rather than speculative. Meaning, I go to Google knowing what I want to look up instead of typing one word at a time and seeing what instantly pops up. Over the years, I feel I have honed my searching skills so that I am able to come up with a better search query than what Google might guess [the word ‘better’ can be defined as ‘more targeted’].

Conclusion for now…

It all comes down to your individual search habits. Perhaps, over time people will adapt to Google Instant–users will purposely slow down keystrokes so they can monitor and choose from instant results. But for now, I don’t see Instant having a major impact on the way we search.


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