Google Instant – a review

Back in early September, Google launched ‘Google Instant’, which we blogged about here.  Instant was designed to save time for searchers by automatically updating results as the searcher types more characters into the search field.  While this new feature will only save the average user mere seconds each time they search, what other impacts has Google Instant had in the online world?

Same end result
Initially there was widespread concern amongst SEO specialists as to how Google Instant would affect their industry.  But a few months after the launch of the new feature, it has been shown that the search results you get today are the same results you would’ve gotten before the introduction of Instant.  In fact, as reported on Search Engine Land, a new study has shown that “Google Instant has already had a positive impact on search advertising, benefiting advertisers through higher impressions and clicks”.

Distraction from the end goal
By automatically updating the search results as the user types, the user gets to view a lot of URLs that they would not have seen before Google Instant was introduced.  While this can be helpful for the user as it can give them other interesting/related content to view, it can also distract them from their end goal.  This makes one wonder if Google’s suggestion of ‘time saving’ is indeed a true benefit of this new “search enhancement”?

Explicit Search Suggestions
Another potential problem identified by the continuously changing set of URLs being displayed during a search was the potential explicit results that could appear.  Take for example a school teacher running through something online with her class using a projector.  The teacher wants to show information about the movie “Girl Interrupted”.  As the teacher types in ‘girl…”, the following suggested results display:

• Girl on girl action
• Girl with no top on
• Girls in bikinis
• Girls wearing no clothes

Undesirable?  Yes.  Inappropriate?  Very.

After an influx of complaints, Google has since made some changes to Instant and results such as this are no longer displayed.

‘Filtering’ their Reputation
Not only has Google listened to the complaints regarding explicit results, the Search giant has also taken it upon itself to filter certain searches for users.  For example, visit Google and type in “love Google Instant”:

Now try “hate Google Instant”:

Funny, isn’t it?  This now poses the question of what else has been ‘filtered’ by Google and the ethicality of this behaviour.

Overall, Google Instant is an interesting ‘enhancement’ to the way we search online and has provided much fodder for Internet forums!  It seems to be an individual preference as to whether you like it or not.  But a handy hint for those who don’t – on the right of your search box, you can easily turn the feature off altogether!

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