Google Instant Is Anything But a Time-Saver

(Page 2 of 3)

at least three pages of preliminary results, for Skype, Safeway, and Sausalito.) That means there are many, many more opportunities to stumble across something you weren’t really looking for, but that might interest you anyway.

“They are making the bet that users are going to be interested in having their question change on them in mid-typing,” says Ray Grieselhuber, the founder of GinzaMetrics, a Mountain View, CA-based startup developing a real-time search engine optimization (SEO) platform. “It may speed up each individual search, but it may cause you to spend more time searching in general. Which is great for Google…When you look at it in that light, it makes a lot of sense.”

Why would Google want you to distract you with stuff you didn’t know you wanted to know? Lots of reasons. The company might, for example, be looking enviously at Facebook’s stunningly high time-on-site statistics—32 minutes per visit, according to Alexa, compared to just 12.8 minutes for Google. (Update: ComScore reported today that Web users spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook in August, which was more than the 39.8 million minutes they spent on all of Google’s sites combined.) It wouldn’t be surprising if the company were working on various ways to make more interesting as a destination site—a place where you might want to spend a little time exploring before you click off to the next page.

And don’t forget that Google is run by computer scientists who get a kick out of anticipating people’s information needs. In a now-famous (and oft-misinterpreted) remark to the Wall Street Journal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” I don’t think Schmidt meant to come off as Big Brotherish; he was just saying that Google ought to supply information tailored to whatever users are doing, at the instant they’re doing it. Matt Cutts, head of the team at Google that’s responsible for detecting spam sites, made the point this way in a blog post about Google Instant on Wednesday: “Peoples’ information need[s] often change over the course of a search session. Google Instant makes that process even easier: people can dig into a topic and find out new areas to explore with very little work.” The more new areas they find, of course, the longer they’ll spend on Google—and the more likely they’ll eventually click on an ad, earning Google a pay-per-click fee.

Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that Google Instant is simply designed to draw out the search process. For certain kinds of highly goal-driven searches, such as product searches, it may be faster than the old method of typing out your whole query, then waiting to see what comes back. But if you’re open to suggestions—well, you’re about to get a lot more of them.

“Search intent is a big part of the equation in whether this is really helping efficiency, or increasing the time that you’re searching,” says Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge, a San Mateo, CA-based SEO startup I profiled in June. “If I’m looking for size 12 Air Jordans, this gets me much closer to buying something faster. If I’m in research mode and just trying to find information about a topic, it’s going to get me a broader set of topics.”

2. The AdWords Theory

Even before Google’s press conference was over, the blogosphere was buzzing over the question “Is SEO dead?” In its white-hat version, anyway, SEO is the process of adjusting the content of your website so that people can easily find it through search engines, using the keywords that would come to their minds most naturally. The answer most experts are giving to the question is that … Next Page »

Single Page Currently on Page: 1 2 3 previous page

Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

Trending on Xconomy

By posting a comment, you agree to our terms and conditions.

21 responses to “Google Instant Is Anything But a Time-Saver”

  1. Interesting, compelling and distracting. At this juncture in my personal opinion that Google Instant may limit people to pull up many unwanted results as mentioned in the post. Realistically I am curious to see if this new unveiling will last more than a few months time before it is tanked. I am excited to see what type of reviews Google Instant receives from more and more users over the next few weeks.

  2. Mark says:

    I have left it on for fun but I do most of my searching through the omnibox. Google instant is more or less an extension of Google suggest. It was cute and fun to see what they predicted and what a majority of the world was searching for when they type these similar words. Now, it actually shows you the websites that are associated with it.

    Yet, I find myself just more distracted from it. 99% of my search, I know what I’m looking for. When I’m bored, some times I peruse the search results, but even here its more directed.

  3. I just think that it adds zero value to my life and is just a mind-numbing, time-saving gimmick:

  4. Loran Bosini says:

    If people really knew who Google passes search forensics on to, they’d seek out all Google-assisted entities and block further traffic to/from them.

  5. Albert says:

    Google Instant is a bloody nuisance, and particularly annoying since it is active by default. Loran Bosini’s comment is quite timely; I recently read a very disturbing commentary on this at:

  6. Lily says:

    It’ll take getting used too – just like being able to search from the address bar.

  7. dennis teel says:

    i like it..i don’t understand how it could be annoying to anyone.i had to get used to the in-action.or the action of NOT hitting enter automatically after THAT was getting annoying.i finally have mastered it.i don’t hit enter thinks it’s one of those features that will affect a user in the way that they’ll either leave instant on or off at all times and not be switching back and forth/.

  8. Samuel Tebrien says:

    You don’t need google instance to be turned on to for words to appear before you finish typing them. You can turn it off and there is no difference.
    Its a scam pulled by Google. It used to be you could input how searchs/websites you wanted to appear per page but know if your not loggined into a google account you only see 10 search reults/websites. It use to be present to 20 wesites/search results but know its only 10.
    Know i also heard that even if your loggined in the per page search number doesn’t save but I haven’t tried that yet.
    The reason they want this is so that websites can pay more for advertisement on their search engines since clicking pages takes too long search thru. Its favoring huge websites and throwing small website way behind so people don’t see it.
    Besides this its only letting people who type slow click on popular search results.

  9. Samuel Tebrien says:

    so know you can turn instance off without losing the popular search words that come up before you finishing typing.

  10. Hans says:

    I just think that it adds zero value to my life and is just a mind-numbing, time-saving gimmick

  11. TV-Pakker says:

    by finding this results it seems like the keywords dont nessesary corrects with the other sites. Does any know what i mean? fore exaple like

  12. says:

    Informativ og virkelig god artikel . Jeg begynder at wach mit online job med andre øjne. Jeg er enig med dig så må vi se på vores online job som en rigtig en, så vi kan succes.