Thursday, 9 September 2010

Google launches Instant search results

A big announcement from Google this week has been widely covered in the press (such as the BBC) and 'blogosphere'. Google Instant has been tagged by the company as "search at the speed of thought" and represents a change in the way the search engine displays results, so that now the listings are displayed as soon as a user types in a query, rather than waiting until the Search or Enter button is clicked.

The other main change with Google's search results is that the engine now tries to predict the likely query and need of the searcher, so that the search suggestion bar and results will modify as the displayed results as more letters are typed into the search box. Google estimates that the typical user spends 9 seconds entering a query and 15 seconds looking for answers, so that the new Google Instant tool could shave between 2-5 seconds off a typical web search.

It's another move by Google to improve their search performance over Microsoft's Bing engine, as well as deflecting the coverage away from Bing now powering the search results for Yahoo in the US. The new search results are now available in the US, using a larger search home page and a centred layout for the search results. Instant will then be rolled out to other regional versions of Google in the coming weeks.

The launch of instant has also created a lot of comment in the search engine optimisation (SEO) community, with some saying this changes the whole landscape. However, this seems an over-reaction as the underlying search results are still being generated with the same basic principles, and although this may start to change search behaviour over time, the ultimate aim of SEO to present a business in front of relevant searchers and so drive traffic to a website remains unchanged.

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