Google Instant, the Searcher Experience, and How It All Plays Out

Like everyone else who works in search marketing, we’ve been paying close attention to the launch of Google Instant, but unlike a lot of what we’re hearing in the search marketing community, we’re seeing it more as a new facet of search experience to understand and work with rather than an ‘OMG the sky is falling’ type of shakeup.

Still, an awful lot about the technology is intriguing. One thing that caught my eye in this morning’s New York Times article about Google Instant was this:

Google, which already handles more than a billion searches a day and has a billion users a week, had to figure out how to manage the load when suddenly each letter typed was a separate search query. The solution includes storing frequent searches and sending common ones, like “Barack,” back more quickly than ones that are nearly impossible to predict, like “Bill.”

Given that Google has also been working to incorporate fresher and more real-time results from the social space, it fascinates me to think of the algorithmic push-pull requirements of balancing query load against being the most current source of information about a popular topic.

The whole thing is going to be interesting to watch play out, and of course it will affect our work in ways no one fully understands yet. But I personally think it’s a cool innovation, and something searchers are going to enjoy for the convenience it affords. And contrary to what many search professionals are predicting about the “death of the long tail,” I expect the display of longer tail results on shorter queries will help present search refinement opportunities to search consumers, meaning that while some longer tail searches will be able to be executed in a shorter tail query due to Instant, some shorter tail entries will become longer tail due to the inherent ease of drilling down into specificity and relevance without the work of typing and retyping and searching and re-searching. In other words, I predict that while search behaviors may change on a micro level, on the macro level — in the aggregate — they will look largely the same.

But that remains to be seen, and we’ll certainly be watching, along with the rest of the businesses and professionals in the world who make their living trying to capture searchers as potential customers for our client businesses. If Google users enjoy the feature and find what they’re looking for more efficiently, it’ll certainly be worth the modification it may bring to our services.

What do you think about Google Instant, as either a searcher or a search professional? Let us know in the comments.

This entry was posted in search and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.