Google can acquire any web service they like, create amazing new widgets/gadgets/API’s in its google labs and launch new fantastic online tools such as GMail, Google Maps and Google Docs until it’s lovely logo turns bluer than a royal navy jacket – but If there is anything that divides opinion amongst web professionals more than anything else, it’s Google making changes to its search.
Since 1998 when Google first hit our screens – search has been the most important Google tool. Not just to us the consumer, but due to Google’s seamless neat integration of AdWords, search is the most important tool to Google as well. AdWords netted over $23 Billion in 2009 for Google and is their number one revenue stream.
It’s therefore easy to see why, when Google make a change to their search, it’s no small thing!
With nearly 80 million active websites on the internet, search is vital. In the main, as a user you want results that give you answers to your query, but sometimes you may also want to research around a topic or maybe even stumble across a website you’re interested in by accident.
However – this may all change with the release of Google Instant.
Google instant displays your search results as you type. So enter “F” and up pops Facebook… “A” is for Amazon etc…
It’s actually quite easy to predict what’s going to be top for every letter of the alphabet.
But let’s consider how this is going to change users search habits.
I predict users will now type, delete, re-type, delete, re-type, delete etc… in the search box until a seemingly relevant result appears above the fold (on the screen without scrolling down) in their browser.
This means websites that are not optimised enough for any keyword phrase to appear in the first few results will never be seen.
I can’t help thinking that’s a shame.
OK, the title of this blog may suggest only 26 sites will ever be viewed – which may be a slight exaggeration. But really how far off is this number? Considering there are 80 million sites on the internet I’ll bet my bottom dollar it’s not much more than 1% that will be viewed via organic search.
Website owners have a few options…
1) Ensure top listings by bidding high amounts in Google AdWords (not bad news for Google).
2) Look for alternatives such as Social Networking, Viral Campaigns and offline marketing to promote their website (bad news for Google).
It boils down to what works for the website owner. But it will be interesting if the majority choose option 2. Search could become less influential and that will be down to Google instant.
If that happens and Google switch instant off – it may be too late.
I also suspect websites such as Stumble Upon, which is fantastic for discovering new websites and Digg, which promotes hot websites of the moment will also be waiting with baited breath to see what impact this has on them. I believe it will be positive.
Not every user wants the answer in an instant. When you next go shopping, would you want the first acceptable outfit to be presented to you in the very first shop you enter? Or would you want to walk around for a bit, go in several shops and then make a choice?
We’re all living fast paced lives and have less and less time to spend on the activities we enjoy the most. At some point we’re surly going to think enough is enough and start making the time to do whatever we enjoy… no matter how long it takes.