This isn’t new, but from talking to clients and others, it is evident that many businesses don’t consider how Google’s Instant Search might influence whether a searcher clicks on a particular search listing on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
A little over two years ago (September 8, 2010), Google announced Google Instant Search. They wrote, “Google Instant is search-before-you-type.”
In addition to being faster (if you click on one of the suggested results), it is predictive search. Google says, “One of the key technologies in Google Instant is that we predict the rest of your query (in light gray text) before you finish typing. See what you need? Stop typing, look down and find what you’re looking for.”
As you can see by the example results below, Google clearly is predicting I was looking for “property” in central Wisconsin.
So, how does Instant Search predict, and what does it display? Google says, “A list of predicted queries is generated using the autocomplete algorithm.” Here is a short version of what it is based on.
- Search activities of others
- Contents of pages indexed by Google
- If you have a Google account, and are signed in, your Web history and past searches
- In some cases, Google+ profiles come into play
Google writes, “Apart from the Google+ profiles that may appear, all of the predicted queries that are shown in the drop-down list have been typed previously by Google users or appear on the web.”
We humans often take the path of least resistance, and Google Instant Search provides such a path. Not surprisingly, when we click on one of the suggestions, instant search impacts what results we actually see. Previously we used a search phrase we believed would yield what we were looking for. If we did not find it in the first batch of results, we would refine the search and try again. Now, Google has changed that. For many the temptation to click on one of the first suggestions is just too great (even though it may not be the keyword or phrase we were planning on including), so they succumb, and the results are considerably different than those we would have received had we searched using the keywords we originally planned to use.
What does all of this mean? That depends on one’s perspective. I am not saying it is good or bad. However, it has changed the way we search.