By Q3 of 2010, Google’s main search site had passed the one-billion-per-week user mark. That number makes Google one of the most-used services – of any kind – in the world. It’s a significant achievement and one that had the Google Development Team talking about scalability and processing long, long ago.
To commemorate this milestone, Google held a media conference at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco on September 8th and introduced Google Instant.
For those unaware, Google Instant is a new search enhancement that serves to improve the quality of search functions and the overall user experience by showing search results as you type – updating search results and delivering ads with each new keystroke. It’s a predictive search with real-time visualization and results. The impetus for this enhancement comes from a need to reduce the time it takes to log a search query at Google – thereby saving valuable processing time.
In the research and development phase, Google’s usability study showed that most people type slowly but scan information for content and results extremely quickly. With this in mind, the Google Development Team expected that most Google users would be able to scan for results they need – while still typing. Google Instant was born.
Clever as this new instantaneous search enhancement may be, Google has some in the search world a bit nervous – especially those in the SEO or PPC professions. Throughout all of the glorious fanfare and inevitable pushback, Google maintains that nothing has changed with search result ranking.
There’s no reason to be nervous. Google Instant is certainly not the first enhancement to the world-renown search engine. So far, in 2010, Google has already rolled out over 500 changes to ranking and UI. And – until all the speculative chatter can be thoroughly tested and proven either true or false, much of what we’re hearing is just chatter. Not only that, but if you don’t like it, Google made it possible for users to turn it off.
Here is a short list of what some are talking about:
1. Google is rendering the paid and universal search listings as high as possible, but may be pushing the SEO results “below the fold.” This, of course, may mean that top ranking is of greater importance than ever.
2. With the prominent placement of the PPC results in the Google Instant page rendering, there may be some impact on PPC performance. Some expect that the nature of the page rendering will drive CPCs up and CTRs down.
3. What about quality score? Google has stated that Google Instant does not change the way they determine the relevance or quality of your ads. Advertisement performance will be judged as it has been in the past.
4. Monitoring key performance indicators related to SEO and SEM should remain the same. Google Instant search is supported by Chrome v.5 and v.6, Firefox v.3, Safari v.5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v.8. However, Google Instant search is not supported in Internet Explorer versions below 8 or Firefox versions less below 3 – so you may wish to filter your metrics accordingly.
Above everything that will be said about Google Instant in the months to come, it should be mentioned that Google Instant is important enhancement for search users and advertisers alike. And much of the initial negative information about Google Instant is, at this time, mere speculation.