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Blog » Big changes in search on the way with Google Instant

Right now Google is rolling out an new advancement in web search that it calls ‘Google Instant’. The difference between Google Instant and regular search is that as soon as you start typing, the search results appear on the page and with every letter you type those results are updated to reflect what Google predicts you are going to type. Google claims that Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search.

The rollout of Google Instant started Wednesday in the U.S. and will continue across different regions over the coming months. According to information on Google.com:

Google Instant is starting to roll-out to users on Google domains in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use the following browsers: Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8.

It is not yet officially available in New Zealand but if you have a Google account you can try it out if you are logged into your Google account. Just go to google.com and if it changes to google.co.nz scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the link ‘Go to Google.com’. If you are on the iGoogle page, do an initial search to get to the search page. You will know that Instant is turned on if you see a little message to the right of the search box that says ‘Instant is on’. Just start typing and you should see the search results appear on the page as you type – that’s if it works. In my test it worked initially but then stopped working (the results on the page were no longer being refreshed as I typed). I got it working again by starting over in a new tab.

You can also check it out by watching Google’s promo video:

Google Instant may have ramifications for some websites visibility in searches. As people start to type they will see the results of multiple search queries flash before them and may find something of interest before they have completed what they were originally planning to type. A website that shows up at the top of the results for the full query may not show up on the partial query where the searcher jumped off. It appears to me it that this could have the effect of making shorter keywords more valuable in search engine optimisation.

Another impressive advancement in Google Instant is that it takes personal information into account in the search results, so it can potentially present a different set of search results to different people typing the exact same query. This sounds like it could make SEO more challenging. Some are even making bold claims that this innovation will bring about the end of SEO – Google Instant Makes SEO Irrelevant. But Google’s Matt Cutts in his thoughts on Google Instant assures us that SEO won’t die but acknowledges that it is likely to change:

The search results will remain the same for a query, but it’s possible that people will learn to search differently over time. For example, I was recently researching a congressperson. With Google Instant, it was more visible to me that this congressperson had proposed an energy plan, so I refined my search to learn more, and quickly found myself reading a post on the congressperson’s blog that had been on page 2 of the search results.

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