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10 Concerns With Google Instant : Page 2

Instant is a dramatic move and will likely change Web business and how consumers use the Web in a number of ways.


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That may be bad for publishers who use Google AdSense as their ad inventory as they will serve up ads with smaller inventory since more of the ad inventory will be clicked on during the searching instead of when the person lands on the site. Plus, in slightly shifting the place where ads are clicked, Google will not have to split the revenue share with the publishers. This should increase Google's revenue and margins.

7) What Are Good Practices Moving Forward?

If you are a search engine optimization specialist, focus on building links that also drive traffic. That way your efforts will be maximized. If you are a business, you have two options: 1) Focus SEO for some terms that Google suggests early in the entry of the search query, or 2) Focus on user retention so that the traffic you do get, comes back to your site. Right now it looks like free traffic from Google is likely to decrease for most sites and that is something most companies will just have to find a way to work around. If you are a person searching, it probably makes sense to play around with Google Instant instead of turning it off because while it is still buggy and clunky to use, it does have glimpses of how it can be quite useful.



8) Bugs and Usability Problems in Google Instant

Google users discovered many bugs and usability problems in Google Instant during the first release day. Some of the search terms were bringing up quite good suggestions while other search words were bringing up absolutely ridiculous suggestions. Surely this will all get fixed in the next few days, weeks and months, but here is one example of terrible usability introduced by Google Instant that I have personally experienced.

I am currently planning a camping trip and I wanted to search for something like "Bears dangerous for camping in California." And yes, I am that much of a nerd to search for that. After typing "B" I was shown results having to do with Bank of America. This was strange and distracting. Since then I have typed "B" a number of times and I get results for BART, which is a local government organization for San Francisco, where I live. It seems that this was a patch on the part of Google to decrease the randomness of the single-letter results and have it appeal to me through locality, since their data must have reflected that I am in San Francisco yesterday as well.

In any case, just as this segue was distracting in the article, the Bank of America and BART results were distracting for me in my search. Since my original query was 6 words, I got a number of other results, was distracted by some results along the way, and never actually finished my long query, and never got my answer. So if indeed, bears represent a danger when camping in California, and you may never hear from me again, this is the result of poor Google Instant usability. And if the best metric in search is whether the user is ultimately taken to the page he/she wants, Google just became much less user-friendly and they have to address this problem soon.

9) Usability Gains

Google Instant is not all bad when it comes to usability. It may be distracting in some ways, but the distraction does not have to always be a bad thing. With distraction comes discovery of new things. Perhaps Google is trying to experiment with new paradigms of how we interact with knowledge, letting us discover it instead of search for something we want. We all have to ask ourselves: how often does it happen that we ourselves do not even know what we want? I think it isn't an uncommon scenario. Plus I found bears.org along the way, so who knows, if I don't get eaten by bears due to Google Instant, I may become a preservation activist thanks to Google Instant's discovery mechanism.

10) Long Tail vs. Short Tail Searches

This item is last, but definitely not least. In recent years, Google has been putting quite a bit of emphasis on the longer searches because their data analysis was showing that people were increasing the length of their searches. This observation by Google was highlighted with their expansion of the Google search box to accommodate the longer search strings that people were entering. Many things pointed in that direction until now. With the instant discovery of search results as you type, more people will stop at the shorter queries. The development of longer searches vs. shorter searches will be interesting to observe as it unfolds.

Bonus Insight

Notice that Google officially touts this new change as a time saver. But consider how much time will be lost or taken up by "discovering" new sites that were not your original intention. Browsing the new sites is surely going to take up more time than the 1 second saved while performing the search. This just underlines the paradigm confusion which will be interesting to observe moving forward.


Alex Genadinik is the founder of San Francisco Hiking Community and a Startup Consultancy. Please say hello and continue the conversation on this topic on Twitter @genadinik
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