Google’s new search feature—Google Instant—presents a new way of accessing search engine results on Google . . . and it has the Web buzzing.
Google Instant actually “predicts” your search results as you’re typing individual letters in the search bar, and it presents the actual results on the page for your consideration, without you having to hit the enter key. As you type more letters, the search results may change as Google better understands the search term that you’re typing.
Although Google and other applications have long used the autosuggest feature to suggest search terms as you typed, presenting the actual search results on the page as you type is the great differentiator. And if Google Instant doesn’t present results that meet your criteria, you can continue to type out the search term you have in mind and then hit enter, as you’ve always been able to do.
Because this is a brand-new feature, the implications to both users and website owners are still being studied. As with any feature, Google will most likely continue to fine-tune Instant based on market reaction and user behavior.
You may recall that Google recently announced their Caffeine project—which routinely crawls and indexes websites in near real time—as well as their continuing efforts to personalize website results based on our individual choices. The Instant feature is just one more stepping stone to not only reduce our total search time as users, but to present specific search results that Google believes we are seeking as individuals. This means that for any given search term, say “photography,” Google will predict and instantly present results depending on your personal preferences and past search history.
This is a major leap in the way search results are presented, and given the impact that search results have on the success of a website, Google Instant will most likely complicate the already complex business of SEO. Because the immediate search results will be focused on the top half of the search results page, we expect the value of the Top 5 positions to become even more coveted. Undoubtedly, well-tuned SEO sites will focus their efforts on squeezing into those top positions, which we have known to provide the best search results and traffic prior to the Instant feature.
Additionally, we expect that the meta description will play a greater role in the selection of the search results that are presented. Because the description and title have always played an important role in determining which search result to click on, the Instant feature may now be presenting sites that otherwise would not have been seen in pre-Instant search results. (It’s important to note that the meta description does not play a role in the ranking of a site, but it does help to “sell” the site to a searcher on the search results page.)
As of today, Google Instant is not universally available, and it’s not available at all yet on mobile devices. And if you find that Google Instant is not your search tool of choice, Google does provide an off switch.
Want to learn more? Read About Google Instant.
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