We had our regular quarterly meeting at Google HQ London today where we discuss various things including new developments in search, new beta programs that we have access to, and how to keep our clients ahead of their competition online. One of the things that was discussed was the demise of Google Instant yesterday.
What was Google Instant?
Google Instant was Google’s method of showing search results as you type them by intelligently predicting, from past search data, the likely search phrase you were typing. The more characters you typed the more refined the instant results became. The screen showed you the results for the first answer and the predictive text options in the search window gave you further options that you could choose from without having to have typed the whole thing in. Very nifty and time saving.
When it was launched in 2010 it was given a lot of exposure including in mainstream media. Then head of Google Search products Marissa Mayer (who went on to be CEO of Yahoo!) described it as the time as a “fundamental shift in search”. And indeed it was. It saved a lot of time and typing. It was accepted as a universally good improvement.
However, as anyone who experienced it on mobile or with a poor connection will testify, the experience faltered in these scenarios. Touch screens are different in the way that you can access information compared to a desktop/laptop.
Why has Google Instant been ditched?
The reason Google Instant is no more is because of mobile, and associated with this, in our opinion, voice search. More than 50% of all Google searches are now conducted on mobile devices and, as already explained, Instant isn’t good on mobile. Google’s US spokesperson said of the drooping of Google Instant:
“We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices. Now as you type, you will only see search suggestions and then be able to click on those suggestions to see the results. The search results will not load any result pages without clicking on a search suggestion or clicking enter.”
However, last year 20% of all Google’s mobile searches were done with voice: Just asking your mobile a question is easier than typing and with the growth of voice. At Innovation Visual we think that this change is about Google knowing that voice search is the future and this is a further step towards refining the experience towards voice.
Why should you care about Google Instant going and Google voice search being more important?
As Innovation Visual Director Tim Butler explained to the audience at Digital Surrey in April of this year, the importance of voice search cannot be overstated for businesses. Not only is voice used on mobile devices to request a search, but audio-only interfaces such as Amazon’s Alexa fundamentally change the way businesses need to think about search. For example, you can order a pizza by asking your Alexa, but you don’t get asked which company the pizza will come from! Direct to transaction as well as changed interfaces are all things that need to be considered if you want your customer and prospects to keep finding you online.
We think that all businesses should understand the impact of voice search and we have Google giving a talk on voice search developments at our Office Warming event on the 7th September (note that this is an invitation only event with very limited numbers so call or email us if you want to come along).
Google Instant has died in an instant, after just 7 years in existence. However it will be replaced by further innovations to meet consumer demand in search. You need to be sure that you and your business’ digital marketing understands these changes. If you don’t think you do, or you don’t think you are exploiting change, then you need to get in touch with us so we can help you keep ahead of your competition.