Google is all about speed. Earlier this year, Brafton reported on the search giant's launch of Caffeine for faster web indexing to offer consumers fresher results, but now Google is taking timeliness to the next level by giving searchers relevant results before they finish typing a query.
Google Instant makes search "faster than the speed of type," according to Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience for Google. At the live search event, officials explained that the majority of search time is spent typing queries and selecting results. It takes searchers 9 seconds to enter a query, and then Google spends around 300 milliseconds finding results. Users then spend an average of 15 seconds selecting the most relevant results.
Now, Google Instant cuts back on the time it takes to find results using predictive technology to guess what users are searching for. The top prediction appears in grey text directly in the search box, and both organic and paid search results based on Google's predictions appear as users type. Google says this helps searchers "see where they're headed, every step of the way," instead of waiting to discern whether they chose an appropriate query based on results.
The feature will start rolling out for Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer users in the U.S. immediately. It may not come up on the Google homepage just yet, but it can be tested on a Google Instant search page by typing something into the query box.
What does this mean for marketers? For SEO, ever-important keyword optimization may change a bit. Google explains, "even when you don't know exactly what you're looking for, predictions help guide your search." This means people who start typing will be more likely to tweak and fine-tune their queries, and marketers will not only want to optimize for one query but should also consider a broad range of neighboring queries and long-tail phrases.
Additionally, it may be wise for marketers to start creating content based on Google Instant suggestions. The company's predictions are rooted in new technology that is in tune with what consumers are searching, and content can be designed to answer common queries.
On the paid search front, Google predicts there won't be major changes to impressions or clicks as a result Google Instant. Google's Inside AdWords blog explains that the company will count an impression when users' actively choose queries, click a link on a result page or stop typing for three seconds or more. In spite of Google's claim, impressions may change – particularly in light of the three second delay rule. The company also predicts this will improve the quality of clicks garnered because Google Instant more directly connects searchers with the answers they seek.
Marketers and searchers should stay tuned to see whether Google Instant revolutionizes search as Google predicts, and to see what else the search giant has in store. Google Instant for mobile searches? Split-screen results based on multiple predicted searches?
One thing is clear: Google is game for fine-tuning its search portal, and brands who want to catch clicks from the more than 1 billion weekly Google users should try to keep pace.