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Google introduces Instant search

By C.J. CASTILLO
Sept. 10, 2010 at 4:10 a.m.
Updated Sept. 11, 2010 at 4:11 a.m.


BY CJ CASTILLO

This week, Google introduced a new search feature, Google Instant. According to Google's announcement, Google Instant is a "new search enhancement that shows results as you type."

Many of you may be familiar with something similar with the regular Google search. Ever typed in a few words and have a list of suggested search options drop down below the Google search bar? Well, Google Instant is something like that, but more intense.

Google wants users to find their search results faster. According to the company, people usually spend nine seconds typing in a search query. Google hopes to shave off two to five seconds with Google Instant.

You must be signed in to Google to use Google Instant. (Sign up for a Google account, it's free.) Once on Google's classic homepage, type in the words you want to search and search results will begin to appear, even before you hit the return key. Also, as soon as you start typing in the search bar, the top prediction for your search is shown in gray text. It's like Google knows what you are thinking? Or does it? Type in the letter "F" and a listing of search results for Facebook appear. Type in "I" and you get results for IKEA.

Since Google Instant was introduced there has been some criticism over the way this enhancement works.

Take for example searches for controversial or offensive terms. Certain words (I'm not telling you which words to type, this is a family show!) will result in a blank search page, or perhaps search results the user was not looking for.

Another concern is how Google Instant will affect Search Engine Optimization. SEO involves creating web pages so they get a high ranking in search engine returns. For example, say you have a business that specializes in personalized mittens (I like mittens), you would want your website to be first on the search results list. With Google Instant, search time is less and a user's search habit may change with time. Only time will tell how this will affect search optimization.

Google Instant works on Chrome versions 5 and 6, Firefox version 3, Safari version 5 for Mac and Internet Explorer version 8. If you have a slow Internet connection, Google Instant will automatically turn off. You can also choose to turn off Google Instant on your preferences page, or by choosing the option next to the search bar. For more information on how Google Instant works and to watch a video of the feature in action, visit www.google.com/instant.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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