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By: Tom Jacob Philips

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Thursday, 8-Dec-2011 05:28 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Long-Term Consequences of Google Instant Search

The enormous shift in the allocation of web traffic caused by Google instant is likely to continue well into the future. Think about it: you're not going to scroll all the way down each time you type another letter and a new set of results flash in front of you. You will most likely only see the ads and the top 1-2 natural results for each "instant change". Faced with this, wouldn't you simply modify your search query rather than scroll down the page if you don't see anything you like?

In the original Google search you would have been more likely to scroll down the search results and even check out the next page. Now, the top two results are going to get much more exposure and many website that tend to be below-the-fold in Google's search results are complaining about massive decreases in search traffic.

So how do you stay competitive in light of these changes? First, your website listing will receive less attention than before - this applies to both the title and the description but much more so for the latter. This makes it that much more important to ensure that your website's title is eye-catching - preferably doing so in a fraction of a second.

What about the end-user side of things? The aim of Google's instant-search was to increase productivity, improve user experience and reduce wasted time. Those extra few seconds saved may not seem like much, but over time it adds up. Not having to press the enter key may not seem like a big deal either, but again it adds up in terms of saved effort - your brain does have a limited supply of willpower. Image thumbnails also often appear at the top of results, so you would also be able to quickly flip through the top few relevant images for multiple variations of your search terms.

On the other hand, it's not as easy to display 20, 50 or 100 results on a page. Previously this was just a matter of clicking on "advanced search" and changing the displayed results number in the drop-down box, but now this is grayed out with a message politely informing you that it is not possible to change this value unless you turn off instant search. If you happen to think that Google Instant sucks, perhaps you should check out other search engines.


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