Breaking: “Google Instant” Introduced

    September 8, 2010
    Chris Crum

Update: The event has started. Marissa Mayer says, "In the past few months, Google has crossed one billion users each week." Caffeine makes index 50% faster, she says. 

She talks about Caffeine, real-time search, spelling corrections, enhancements to questions and answers, Google Squared (part of core web search now), stars in search, and the recent redesign. These are all presumably used in Google Instant. 

Here’s a URL for Google Instant:

The official description from that site:

Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.

The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want. In time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way.

Google says Google Instant can Save 2-5 seconds per search. The company says the benefits are faster searches, smarter predictions, and instant results. 

The feature can be turned off by clicking the link next to the search box on any SERP. 

It’s starting out only in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Russia. It is compatible with Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8. 

Mayer finally announced the feature. The official blog post for it is up now too. 

It has a scroll to search feature that lets you scroll through predictions and see results instantly for each as you scroll down.

Mayer says its not "search as you type". It’s actually "search before you type" because it’s predicting results. "There’s even a psychic element to it," she says. She recalls an old Google April Fools day joke about a similar product.

Google Instant will be rolling out over the course of today in the U.S. Over the next week, the other countries mentioned will start getting it (for users signed in). 

The Google Instant team says its great for weather, because you can just press "w" to get local weather results. 

Steve Rubel says Google Instant kills SEO. I don’t know about that. What do you think? Comment here

Update: I’ve written more on this subject here (including some thoughts from Google’s Matt Cutts).

Google says they’re "working hard to get this experience to you on mobile" this fall. 

Google Instant applies to ads and changes the way Google counts impressions. Google talks about this more here.

"It’s possible that this feature may increase or decrease your overall impression levels," says Google’s Dan Friedman. "However, Google Instant may ultimately improve the quality of your clicks since it helps users type queries that more directly connect them with the answers they need."

Trevor Claiborne of the Google Analytics Team says that Analytics users might notice some fluctuations in AdWords impression volume and traffic for organic keywords. "For example, you may find that certain keywords receive significantly more or fewer impressions moving forward," he says.

There is also a post on Google’s Webmaster Central blog, which webmasters should read. Impressions are measured in three ways, it says: the traditional way, when a user clicks on a link that appears as they begin to type, and when a user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds.

During the presentation, Google says Google Instant will "enrich your life" and help you learn more while you search. They say it will seem so obvious in retrospect. 

I must have missed this in the announcement, but Google will reportedly hide explicit search results in instant results. 

Google is working on implementing the feature in browser search boxes (possibly in the next few months). 

Google says,"We care a lot about child safety." They employ the same policies and filter for violence, hate, and porn. They won’t show the results as you go along until you press enter. 

The amount of personal info Google collects for Google Instant is unchanged, according to Mayer. 

As far as cost of data centers, Google says its in line with regular growth. 

On SEO, Google says ranking stays the same. There’s not a big change as far as people trying to adapt their results for the search engine. The way people search will change. 

Mayer says the goal is to roll out the feature in as many different platforms and geographies as possible. Mayer likens Google Instant to power steering. 

As far as behavior change, Google says as you use Google Instant more, you begin to explore the area of your interest more. You might do multiple queries as a result. 

Mayer says there were some Google users who decided to turn off Google Instant (usually for connection speed reasons – very small percentage). 

It’s not directly tied to Caffeine, but it makes indexing fresher, so it is related. The index is bigger, so it increases the competition of the results. 

One audience member points out that single letter queries often bring up big brand results.

AndroidGuys points to a way you can use Google Instant on mobile already (as opposed to waiting a few months). Hat tip to Michael Martin for that. 

Original Article: Google’s event is about to happen, but the company has already uploaded the following videos of the product: Google Instant. The videos confirm speculation about the announcements being based on "streaming search results".

Watch below.

The announcement itself is coming up at 12:30 Eastern here. There may be more to it. 

Here’s another video Google has uploaded about the testers:


And yet another video Google has uploaded: