The dust settles on Google Instant

Less than a week on and it seems Google Instant increases impressions and CTR, but is this functionality applicable to all search queries?

You are reading: The dust settles on Google Instant

Less than a week on since Google announced Google Instant to the world, there has been a lot of debate and opinion regarding the impact that the new search interface will have but is there enough evidence yet to form any concrete / proven theories about the long term effect?

Perhaps our greatest concern was the impact that it would have on Adwords campaigns, as it seems probable that the number of impressions would go up with a corresponding drop in click through rate (CTR).

CTR is a vital component of quality score and we therefore had concerns that the new interface may lead to lower quality scores and higher average costs per click (CPC). Of course, any such impact would be felt for all advertisers so these concerns were not keeping us awake at night but we were eager to see what would happen.

It is still early days, but it would indeed appear that impressions have risen across most client campaigns, albeit moderate rises. A lot of the campaigns have, however, also seen a rise in clicks so CTR has not been effected.

It is possible that the increased activity has more to do with people going back to work after the summer lull than the advent of Google Instant, but it is difficult to know for certain and it is one to watch…

We have been playing around with the new UI more and still wonder if it really is a game changer – our core question is whether Google’s users really need any help with their searches as they are experienced searches who generally know what to use as a search query.

We also feel that the early results (those that are shown whilst you enter your search query) are often totally irrelevant and you only see results that you are looking for once you have entered most of the full search string.

A good example that we were looking at this morning is a search for ‘Aston Martin driving experience’ which produces a series of interesting results as you enter the search query.

First up is a series of results for Aston Villa football club – clearly not relevant to what you want:

Google Instant results

If you ignore the Aston Villa suggestion and continue, you will then see Aston Martin car related sites, which is much better but still no evidence in the organic or paid search of anything to do with experience days:

Google Instant results

It gets interesting once you have got to the ‘r’ in ‘driving’ as the results refresh with paid and organic results that are indeed relevant:

Google instant results


Finally some decent results and user satisfaction!

Was it worth the Google Instant results coming in as you typed the query? In this example, the answer must be no but it is just one example and we should not judge the platform on isolated examples. We do still believe that the instant results may prove to be a distraction that most people will just ignore.

Google’s search results have been more volatile for some time now (due to the advent of universal search and a higher degree of personalisation) but this will surely add to the volatility as users will react to the new UI in different ways.

One to monitor and it will be interesting to see the longer term effect. Keep posted and we will no doubt have more to say in a few weeks time with more data to use.


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