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Industry Insight

Google Instant Search and Previews and How it Impacts Paid Search and Design


By Howie Fenton
Published: November 18, 2010

Recently, Google released Instant Search service with Instant Previews, which are pop-up windows that provide images of the Web sites listed in search results. Google Instant Search feature is a enhancement that has been available for awhile and shows results as you type. More recently Instant Previews was added, which will appear as a magnifying glass icon added just to the right of search. Clicking on the magnifying glass will open a snapshot of the Web page associated with the link.

"It's a new way for users to find information on the search results page faster," said Google product manager Raj Krishnan in a phone interview. "It allows quickly comparing the results in a way that wasn't possible before." Krishnan says that simply moving one's mouse up or down on the page, or using navigation keys, will load Web page previews for the other links on the page, like flipping through the pages of a book.

According to Wired, the feature will be most beneficial to people on slower networks, who need a greater degree of precision in their searches, hopefully cutting down on search time. Good for users? Better, however, for Google.

First, advertisers themselves increased their spending two percent following Instant's launch. Figures from Search Engine Land's Matt McGee suggest that this seemingly small boost represents an estimated growth of about $10 million in revenue.

Second, Google is fighting to stay ahead in the Browser war, which recently heated up when Microsoft Bing paired up recently with Facebook. Google would prefer to have users spend more time on their site. It’s not unlike the current thinking in bookstores, which is to put comfortable seats in with coffee and food so you stay longer and hopefully buy more.

But there have been complaints too. Some people are complaining that 1) it changes web page design, 2) it changes the search parameters marketers use with paid search advertising on Google and 3) it will hurt websites that are not updated often.

I am not a web designer so the complaints are not that important but as a user the jury is still out. While I like the Instant Search feature it distracts me and stops me while typing the key words so I can read the new results that are posting. And I have tried Previews and find it very hard to read anything in the preview.

What about you? Are you liking or not liking Google's Instant Search service with Instant Previews.

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

Howie Fenton is InfoTrends' Associate Director of Operational Consulting. For over 25 years, he has focused on benchmarking operational and financial performance in in-plants and commercial printers. He can be reached via e-mail at Howie.Fenton@infotrends.com.


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