Google Instant is the latest search innovation from Google, and as Brafton reported, the feature predicts consumers' queries to display results while they type. It seems Google doesn't predict that users will talk dirty. The search feature doesn't suggest or display results for words the company deems relevant to pornography, violence or hate speech.
During the question and answer session of Google's search event to unveil the feature, Johann Wright, director of product management for the company, explained a "block list" on Google Instant. "We care a lot about child safety issues, so we had to think a lot about autocomplete. … So we implemented a lot of the same features we already use in search to filter for pornography, hate speech, etc." said Wright.
When users begin to type potentially offensive phrases, Google Instant shows its mind is not in the gutter by either offering no suggestions or taking the query in a different direction. For instance, a search beginning "murd" merits the suggestions "murderdolls" – a music group – instead of "murder." Google Instant suggests nothing at all for a query beginning "fuc."
Unless marketers include these words in their SEO or paid search strategies, the block list likely won't affect search campaigns. Nonetheless, it has opened questions about Google's censorship. Moreover, it points to the power of suggestion (or lacktherof) by Google Instant.
For instance, say a user is searching for hotels in Boston. He or she intends to type "Boston hotels downtown." The hotel that would come up first for this query, at press time, is the Doubltree downtown Boston hotel. However, before the search is complete, results start showing up for "Boston hotels" and the top result for this is the Boston Harbor Hotel. A map accompanying the "Boston hotels" results shows the Boston Harbor Hotel happens to be downtown. Consumers might click on that hotel before completing the search.
Maybe Google Instant won't make dirty suggestions, but it could make other suggestions that will shape consumers clicking – and spending – habits.