CNN reported that the unexplained Google doodle stirred a lot of curiosity as users tried to figure out what the scattering dots meant. Google followed this doodle up with another that had “Google” in gray letters that changed to their normal colors as users typed letters into the search box. This doodle paralleled the event later on Sept. 8, at which Google unveiled “Google Instant,” a new feature that updates search results as users type their queries. Google claims that “Google Instant” will save users time as it can display commonly searched queries with fewer keystrokes.
Google Instant shows a lot of promise, especially if you are searching for a commonly searched term. Google has claimed that Google Instant will save users approximately 2 to 5 seconds per search, but the benefits might be negated if you are using a slow connection.
One of the features I found useful was the ability to see results for the suggested “auto-complete” while typing the query — for example, if I typed “how do i p” and the first suggestion was “how do i pay my credit cards off,” this would have saved the time needed to type the rest of the phrase. However, Google Instant seems to count on users to always spell correctly; it is rather annoying to see results flicker every time I misspelled something and had to backspace and re-type it.
Another possible glitch is that the letters on the page flicker to a greenish yellow when moving to the previous or next page of search results. Since this is a new feature, though, that should improve after Google sees how people use the tool.
Compared to other Google launches, this one is more innovative, as opposed to Google trying to catch up on some other technology, like with Google Buzz and social networking. Google seems to do best when it adds new features not found with other services. Combined with the renovated image search earlier in 2010, Google is trying keep ahead of Bing and make sure that its trademark ability to search does not become outdated.
This new feature has the potential to change ad revenue and ranking of pages both for Google and the average user. With the updated search possibly showing different results than if the user had typed in the entire query she had originally intended, pages might show up in a different order than with regular search. If Google Instant takes off, website owners might need to change the way they optimize their page for search engines.
The average user probably won’t see a significant impact, beyond hopefully saving a little time. The potential also exists for users to be directed to pages they might not have seen otherwise if they follow one of the commonly suggested searches by Google, as opposed to using their entire original query.
Marissa Mayer, “Search: Now Faster Than the Speed of Type” Google Blog.
“Picture This: Google vs. Bing Image Search.” Geek Sugar.
Doug Gross, “New Google Instant shows search results as you type.” CNN.