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Google Instant: Here to Stay


Apr 28, 2011

Maybe you’ve noticed and maybe you haven’t, but the option to turn off Google Instant, next to the ‘Search’ button on your Google results page, is no longer available. I guess the feature is now a permanent fixture for users.

This is great news for those of you who use it and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. For the rest of us, that find it annoying, it’s just another kick in the butt.

For everyone who is not up-to-date, a quick recap:

Google Instant is supposed to be a search enhancement feature that shows results as you type your search term. The idea is that your results appear as you type, so you get to the websites you want faster. You don’t even need to hit the ‘Search’ button. The entire idea is based off the fact that human beings tend to type slower than they read.

So the direct benefits of this feature are supposedly faster searches, instant results and smarter predictions. Is everyone current now? Great, let’s move on to why I still don’t like Google Instant.


Faster Searches

I’m not sure who was responsible for testing this aspect, but it does not seem to reflect the habits of the average user.  When a person sees results, we look at them. I do not know anyone that types their search term AND reads the results simultaneously. When the results appear, the average user stops to read them. Instead of continuing to type the search term I desired, I am distracted by search results I don’t even want! How is that faster searching?

Did I mention that most people still look down as they type? How does ‘reading the results as you type’ work then? No, the more I think about it, the more obvious it is that whoever did the testing for Google Instant did not test it on average users.

Instant Results

Instant results are great, as long as they are what you were looking to find. If they are not, then the distraction of glancing through them is nothing but a useless time sink. I could be spending that time refining my search. Instead, I am spending extra time reading results for an incomplete search term- awesome.

Smarter Predictions

This is likely the best and most useful benefit of Google Instant. It does provide smarter predictions for the search term it thinks you want. That is very useful. Seeing the search term I am after appear before I finish typing is the kind of thing that will save me time.

One wonders why Google didn’t just integrate the smarter prediction aspect.

Here’s an idea: integrate the smarter prediction feature into normal Google search and let me use my ‘Enter’ key to confirm I am ready to see results.

It may not give us instant results, but that is guaranteed to produce faster searches without any chance of distraction by useless, unwanted results.

Problem solved. You are welcome Google.

Next week, look for a follow-up piece on why Google Instant is great for keyword marketers. Also, don’t forget to find us on twitter, @dotcomWeavers.

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