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James Perrin

Google Instant: Opt-out to be removed?

4th Feb 2011 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

Google Instant, the much talked about new feature to Google’s service, has been somewhat of an ‘instant’ success with Google users. According to Ben Gomes, the lead engineer on Google Instant, 98% of users have left the new feature on, whilst only 2% of users have opted out.

If you haven’t noticed already, as of September last year, Google’s service evolved allowing searchers to receive instant live updates as you searched. You would only need to type a few words of your term and not only would it suggest the long tail term of what you were looking for but it would also present you with the result on the SERP. So you would only need to type a few characters, speeding up the whole search time and practically rendering the actual ‘search’ button obsolete.

Five months on and Google have announced Instant as a huge success, with only 2% of users opting out of using it. Speaking to Fast Company Gomes said “We’ve seen good results with Instant, even after launch,” he continues to say it has received a very low opt-out rate. After initial controversy, it seems then this new feature has been a real hit with searchers. Or has it?

What these figures don’t tell us is that of the 98% of people who have stuck with Instant, how many simply don’t know that there is an alternative? There are also the people that use Toolbar to search, thus sidestepping Instant entirely – without actually switching it off of course. Therefore, whilst these figures are certainly positive, there may be other factors at play that haven’t been taken into account; to flip it on its head, if Instant wasn’t set as the default option, would you decide to turn it on?

Now thanks to the perceived success of Instant, this has lead to suggestions that Google are going to remove the opt-out feature and so whether you like it or not, you may have to use Google Instant. The reason for this reaction is probably due to the track record of Google Suggest, which suggests completed searches for users, again saving time. The opt-out feature on this was removed soon after and Gnomes believes Suggest is so integral to search that we now “take [it] for granted” as he revealed to Fast Company.

So the new noises are that Google may remove the opt-out feature on Instant.  As gut reaction to this, the ’how will this affect SEO and PPC?’ question has reared its head once again. Well we haven’t seen any significant impacts upon SEO and PPC campaigns, as predicted by Koozai when Google launched Instant [See: Google Delivering Search Results in an Instant].

What do you think though? Will this change in the long term? Or has the effect of Google Instant on SEO been diminished by search specialists knowing exactly how to combat it? It’s difficult to say, but rest assured that at the moment, whether Google remove the opt-out feature or not, it shouldn’t make too much of a difference.

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