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Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.
The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want. In time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way.
With Google Instant, an impression is counted if a user takes an action to choose a query (for example, presses the Enter key or clicks the Search button), clicks a link on the results page, or stops typing for three or more seconds.
Discussion in our Adwords Forum: So how will the new instant search results affect impressions? [webmasterworld.com]
In user studies, people quickly found a new way to interact with Google: type until the gray text matches your intention and then move your eyes to the results. We were actually surprised at how well this worked—most people in our studies didn’t even notice that anything had changed. Google was just faster.
Yahoo! had it back in '05 and also didn't scale it. A post [uniquehazards.tumblr.com] by the Y! engineer that led the team.
So far I've seen no difference in traffic, nor any difference in the percentage of referrals coming from Google. I have to think that this is going to affect things at some point, though.
Here is my thought on why they didn't. Bing and Yahoo probably did focus groups with people that are ACTUALLY average surfers and they all hated it.
Google does their focus groups with all the tech heads in the plex and they all loved it.
Here's an interesting article about Google Instant from a professional designer's perspective: Google Equates "Design" With Endless Testing. They're Wrong [fastcodesign.com]
Some important professional commentary here, I'd say.
We already know they're watching for 3 second pauses to credit an Adwords impression.It will be real interesting to see over the next few months what that does to advertisers CTR and CPC since it stands to reason CTR will go down due to so many impressions, then CPC is going to go up to keep the same spots.
In fact, the Bing exec says something quite complimentary: "The magic was they (Google) were able to do it at scale, for all of their searchers. It's an impressive technical accomplishment for sure."