Google Instant AutoComplete - Not So Complete After All

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December 23, 2010

Google Instant AutoComplete - Not So Complete After All

Our Digital Scientists are made up of tech-loving, results-oriented, passionate, digital marketing nerds who have an unnatural obsession with all things digital. Most likely seen glued to a screen and spewing new digital marketing trends.

As you have no doubt experienced by now, Google Instant provides a faster and more productive way to search the web by instantly displaying results as you type. It anticipates what you are searching for as you type and displays the information below automatically. A drop down list powered by Google Suggest flashes a list of possible terms you are searching on based on relevance and frequency. This feature then allows you to scroll up and down with your arrow keys to see results instantly.

Screenshot of Google Results


"With Google Instant you don’t lose any of the functionality that you know and love about Google. If you want to type your full search term and hit enter, that still works just as it always has. Even for the experienced searcher, though, instant feedback can help you narrow in on the precise results you want, which may have taken several searches before. On top of that, we estimate that about half of your searches will be returned in net zero time because the results you want will appear before you finish typing." - Google

Here's why Google Instant is great:

  • No setup or install required!
  • Personalized results for those users signed into Google
  • Easy to turn on and off directly from the Google homepage
  • Google Instant supports almost all browsers and is currently available in the US, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, and the U.K. with plans to eventually expand globally
  • Works great on smartphones to help minimize typing
  • Google reassures that Google Instant will not affect SEO and the way that search engine marketing (SEM) is done


Basic Features of Google Instant

  • Faster Searching: By offering suggestions for related search topics, Google Instant can help shed valuable seconds each search and connect users to the most relevant information quicker.
  • Predictions: Instant predictions from an improved Google Suggest offer personalized suggestions based off of relevance and frequency to help you find what you're looking for even when you're not always sure. Simply stop typing when you see your ideal search and the information you needed will already be below!
  • Instant Results: Results appear before your eyes as you type! No longer do you have to type your full results, hit enter, and hope for the best. Google Instant helps show you where your search is headed before it's even completed. On average this saves users 2-5 seconds per search.

Will Google Instant modify search behavior? In an interview on TechCrunch, Marissa Mayer stated she expected consumer search behavior to shift dramatically. "One of the things I've seen in my own personal usage," Mayer stated, "is that while each search is faster, I spend more time doing searches. Because I actually see the results coming in and out as I'm doing my searches... I learn things as I go. And after I've actually fulfilled my query, a lot of times I'll see interesting suggestions, so I'll scroll around and learn different things, and so I think ultimately, it may increase engagement of our users."

Google hopes that as searching becomes faster and consumers save additional time, they will become more engaged within their Google results and end up searching more. This leads to Google selling more ads.

Room For Improvement?

While Google Instant is certainly amazing and changing the way people search, it also has its downfalls. On the whole it seems these search suggestions are usually relevant, but that's not always the case. Often the search suggestions Google Instant offers are not always what you may be fact, often they are just ridiculous. It leads us to ask "Who would ever Google that?" The result of these funny suggestions have created quite an internet buzz. One of my favorite sites showcasing some of these results is We at StringCan Interactive decided to make a visual illustration of these ridiculous search suggestions with a Gingerbread Autocomplete Man, just in time for the holidays!

While there are no doubt some critics, I am a huge advocate of Google Instant and its many benefits. That being said, I am also a big fan of the ridiculous suggestions Google spits out at me. While I would certainly hate to see them go, I look forward to the day when Google Instant is perfected and offers me precisely what I am looking for in the blink of an eye.

What do you think about Google Instant? Have you stumbled across any crazy search suggestions? Do you feel its enhanced search features make finding what you need easier or more difficult?

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