Google Instant: User Focused Launch
Last week the web was supposedy dead; this week seo is rumored to be dead, killed by the launch of Google Instant. As you can imagine, I am just about as impressed by this week’s claim as I was by last week’s.
Google Instant – The Nuts and Bolts
Google Instant provides instant results by predicting what it thinks you are searching for when you start typing into the search box. An autofill response is provided in gray type, which can be tabbed in if correct. If not, you can keep typing. Or, you can arrow or scroll down to any of five prepopulated possible results below the search box. This is AJAX-based, and promises to provide search results that are 2 to 5 seconds faster. No big deal, you say? Well, Google estimates that this will save you 11 hours in search time. It also estimates that 350 million hours of users’ time will be saved in the next year.
Google Instant was rolled out over various servers in the US today, and will be rolled out to the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Russia next week. For now, you have to use the Google home page, but it should be available in browser bars within the next two months. It should be rolled out to Japan within the next few months, as well as other countries. Later this fall, it should also be available for mobile use.
If you want to use the search button, it still works like it always did. And if, for whatever reason, you decide you just don’t like Google Instant, you can turn it off easily, although it appears that the default is for it to be on.
How Will Google Instant Affect SEO?
This was a question asked more than once at the press conference held by Google today. Twice, the audience was told that “ranking stays the same,” but that user behavior may change over time, as search will be more fluid, and more queries can be made at one time. It was also stated that there would be no change in personalized search.
There will be no change in the way that ads are served, but a 3 second pause has been added to impressions.
The autocomplete feature filters for violence, hate, and pornography, and thus, some search terms may be inadvertently omitted. I was able to successfully search for the term [breast cancer], but if you are looking for [rape treatment center], you are prompted to hit the search button after typing the first four letters. Both [AK47] and [kalashnikov] came up without difficulty, though. Commerce trumps the filter?
The cache updates as the web is crawled.
One of the final questions asked of the Google panel, which included Sergey Brin, was “How much privacy are we giving up for this?” The answer was, basically, that Google values the privacy of user data, the most personal and sensitive of which is g-mail content, and this is “no less a concern.”
The conclusion really is that we can’t really know how this affects SEO until we have some experience with it, and some data from it. One of the panel members commented, “Our user behaviors my change over time, but I’m sure that our SEOs are smart and can catch up with us.”
Ready, set, GO!
Across the Web
Here are some links to other opinions of people more famous than I am:
Matt McGee – SearchEngineLand (be sure to read the comment by George Revutsky)
ZDNet (comments are interesting – and somewhat hilarious)
Final comment: Perhaps this was all a plot to compete with mobile apps…