While Google is hyping Google Instant as the greatest thing since sliced bread, some see it as bad direction for the search behemoth. They argue Google should be focused on better search results, not gimmicks. Of course there are the believers who see Google Instant as a major advance in search technology saving time and helping you winnow your search without ever hitting the Enter key.
I haven’t had the pleasure of trying Google Instant, but judging from those that have, at this stage of its development, there appears to be two stubborn camps forming – the Pros Camp and the Cons Camp.
For the uninformed, Google Instant is a new search option from Google that displays search results as letters are entered into the Google search field. Each keystroke triggers a predictive search which eventually will display the target of your ferreting. (See related: Google Instant Searches the Web As You Type)
The one very big pro in Google Instant’s camp is that it saves time searching for stuff on the Internet. Web searching before Google Instant is pretty much as Andy Ihnatko describes it in the Chicago Sun Times: “Searching the Web is like being a sniper with little talent but lots of ammunition. You guess at the right search term and hit ‘return.'” And typically you hit that Return key again and again praying for the right result.
Google estimates with Google Instant you can cut by two-third the 25 seconds it takes to search Google. “Google Instant should cut down dramatically on the ‘pogo stick’ problem, where users iterated clicking through results links until they got too frustrated to continue,” IDC analyst Hadley Reynolds told eWeek. “Instant will help show what the right links are more quickly.”
Not only can Google Instant save time, but it makes it much easier to refine searches. PC World’s Jared Newman explained why that’s important this way:
“[I]f I want to read about Google’s stance on evilness, the search term ‘Is Google evil’ primarily brings up news and feature articles on the subject. Now I can tweak it and Tack on the word ‘doing.’ This surfaces Google’s corporate philosophy page as the top result. Tweaks will come in handy for people who usually start their searches from dedicated browser search bars, instead of Google’s home page.”
There are those, however, that believe Google Instant can waste much time as it saves. “You could end up getting distracted by the suggestions and read an article that you weren’t even looking for,” Heather McClain, 16, a waitress, told the BBC. “It will probably end up costing you more time than it saves you.”
Fellow Brit and university student Alistair Kerr, 22, asserted that Google Instant has diverted Google from addressing the real problem with Internet search. “A better thing to do would be to improve the quality of results that pop up,” he said. “Instead of just trying to predict what you’re looking for.”
Another check in the con column against Google Instant is that it may hurt SEO marketers. Searchers will be less likely to click through to a second page of search results, critics say, which will give marketers fewer keywords to work with.
Google Instant has also been tagged as aiding and abetting online scammers. “We know for a fact that most Blackhat SEO campaigns automatically query Google’s trending topic results and now it seems that Google Instant will be suggesting those trending phrases (verbatim), potentially putting millions of victims directly in cybercriminals’ crosshairs,” Sean-Paul Correll of Panda Labs told Webuser.
One of the biggest cons of Google Instant, though, is that, unlike plain old vanilla Google, it can’t be accessed from everywhere. It’s not on mobile browsers, nor is it plugged into the search bars found on the toolbars of most browsers. That, though, is one criticism that Google will solve in the coming months.