Sep 8, 2010

Instant Search - Subtle Details

The news is out this morning about Google's Instant Search UI. Basically, we now start showing search results as you are typing instead of waiting for you to press enter. I thought that I'd point out a few subtle details that not everyone probably noticed, which goes to show the polish put into this launch:


  • Instant doesn't show the results for what you've typed so far, but rather the most likely query we thing you are going to type. So, if you have typed in [greg groth] but not yet hit enter, you'll see this site at the top of the results instead of a page about Gregory Groth, Attorney at Law.
  • As soon as your mouse touches one of the results, the URL bar changes to include the query that results were shown for as the q= parameter instead of the incomplete query that is actually in the search box. This way, web site analytics don't break and start showing lots of substrings of the real query.
  • If you are interested in what was actually in the search box, the oq= parameter gives you this information in your logs.
  • For the sake of counting "impressions" in either your Advertising Console or your Ad Console, not all search results shown get counted as many of them the user ignores. A result gets counted as an "impression" in any of these three cases:
    • A user clicks anywhere on the result page (search result, ad, etc)
    • The user chooses a query interpretation by clicking on it, hitting enter, or pressing the "search button".
    • The results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds.
  • In any of the cases of the "impressions" above, an element is entered into your browser history, making the forward/back buttons work just like you'd expect.
  • Google was careful not to accidentally suggest [porn] if you are typing [por], instead you get results for [porsche]. Similarly, if you type something with no real "safe" suggestions such as [porn], you get no suggestions at all and have to explicitly complete the query first.
Update: If this was interesting, you should also see today's blog post: Google Instant Behind the Scenes

1 comment:

Todd Nemet said...

Thanks Greg. All of them good tips.