7 must-know things about Google Instant

Google has always been obsessed with speed and their latest search innovation takes “fast” to a whole different level — Instant. Google Instant is a new twist on search that displays results as users type based on predictions. The new feature went live on Wednesday.

We’ve done some digging and came up with 7 things you need to know about Google Instant.

1. If a user stops typing and results are displayed for three seconds, it counts as an impression. This could make for a pretty significant change in the AdWords world. How will it affect the number of impressions terms get? Will users who type slowly create more impressions? It remains to be seen.
2. Yahoo! developed and “launched” a similar product in 2005. Called LiveSearch, engineers at Yahoo! created search technology that’s eerily similar to Google Instant. But Yahoo! only launched it on AllTheWeb, a smaller search engine owned by Yahoo!
3. Google Instant is localized. I couldn’t even get through typing “movie theaters” before it was suggesting a few location-based searches. Other searches like hotels, restaurants and shopping malls return similar results.
4. Users will save time. By Google’s calculations, the average searcher will save two to five seconds per search. That adds up to 3.5 billion seconds saved by all Google users. Wow.
5. Brand names are more important than ever. Currently, if you type “travel” in instant search with no spaces, Travelocity has the top five (!!!) results. Google’s Instant algorithm is predicting that the search query will be “Travelocity” and is showing results for that term. However, if you actually press enter and *really* search for the term “travel,” the results are much different. Travelocity doesn’t show up until number 8 and sites like Orbitz and Expedia jump to the front. If your brand name is similar to keywords you are targeting, Google Instant could bring a big boost in search traffic.
6. You can turn it off! If you hate Instant, Google still wants you to search with them. You can turn the feature off to the right of the search bar.
7. Instant searches can be tracked using Google Analytics. It’s not the easiest thing to set up, but after creating a new site profile and a few filters, you can start analyzing how users are searching for your site in Google Instant. Here is a great guide on tracking Instant in Analytics.

  • Janelle

    I have read several comments about Instant search results being different from the results you get if you actually click Search. I wonder if this is planned or only occurs on occasion.

    I also read a similar guide to the one you linked to about tracking Instant in Analytics. Follow the link today. It’s been updated that the suggested query string doesn’t work. According to the Google Analytics team, search tracking is the same so you don’t need to make any changes. Sounds like we won’t get to know “partial” queries from Instant. Don’t they know how curious us marketers are?! We want to know everything!

    Thanks for sharing your research/thoughts.