Google’s Predictive Search

Google Suggest has evolved. As you type in a search phrase, Google tries to predict what you’re searching and refreshes the results as you type. Results continue to change as you continue typing.

According to Google’s announcement about Instant Search:

Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.

For example, take a look at the screenshot below. I typed in “F” which appears in a black font, then Google added “acebook” which appears in light gray. A SERP appeared with results based on a “Facebook” search. As I continued typing, Google continued making suggestions and the SERP updated immediately based on the new “predictions.” In addition to all that, the ever-familiar drop down menu of suggested search phrases appears too.

Example of Google’s Predictive Search

Google Predictive Search

Does This Mean Your SEO is in the Toilet?

With every search change comes the question, “Is SEO dead?” If there came a day when only 10 websites existed and there was no need for a page two and beyond, or when making money online was no longer desirable, or when webmasters/companies didn’t care where they ranked, then sure, maybe that day SEO would be dead.

Until then, the answer is no, this does not mean that your site and existing optimization will go down the toilet. It does; however, mean you have some homework ahead of you. Part of Google’s intent with Instant Search is that users will be able to identify better search phrases “on the fly” or that Instant will help guide them to better results. This mean you definitely want to play around with the new Google Instant to see what terms searchers are presented with.

Type in words someone might use to find a site in your niche. Pay attention to what terms are suggested early on, near the top of the list and in longer phrases. Are these terms you should be optimizing for? Are these terms you’re already ranking well for? If so, you might need to tighten your optimization and gear up for more competition.

Google Instant Infomercial

According to the official Google Instant site, Google claims that the average searcher spends more than 9 seconds simply entering a search term. There were also instances of users taking a half of a minute to a minute and a half to refine their search phrases. With Instant, Google feels they can shave off 2-5 seconds per search.

How to Turn off Live Streaming?

Annoying? Distracting? How do you turn this thing off? To the right of the Search button is a link that allows you to turn Instant on or off.


“About Google Instant.” Google. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. .

Mayer, Marissa. “Search: Now Faster than the Speed of Type.” Official Google Blog. 08 Sept. 2010. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. .


  1. leanne says

    yes I can turn off the google instant but there is no longer an option under “search settings” to turn off the suggestion part. It used to say “do not suggest….” something or other. It is extremely annoying that every time I type in something to search, it has a list of suggestions. Its distracting. I work at home and use Google several times a day. Am seriously thinking of swtiching search engines if I can’t turn off the auto suggest.

  2. says

    Jerry I like your point about paying attention to the lists of predicted search terms, I have been studying this a bit, looks like geo-targeting is a big part of the mix as location specific data is part of every instant search term list. Data from Google Trends seems to be in the formula as well. Throw in a heavy bias towards authority sites and you have what Google seems to think is “predictive” search.
    I think that many people will rebel against this as it seems that Google is attempting to “control” search queries rather than provide value to users.

  3. OPEN Sundays says

    Google is great predictive. Its iGoogle. But the two can not coexist peacefully. Yes, we can switch between iGoogle and the classical view, but it would be great.

  4. ModBird says

    I am unable to switch off the Predictive Search With Google Instant. Even when I select Off at the side of the search bar or select don’t use Google Instant inthe Search Setting, I still wont go off. Is there another way to get rid of this annoying thing as It is getting to the stage where I would rather stop using Google

  5. Joka44 says

    Well I am and it is! I really can’t stand google guessing what I mean. Imagine having a conversation like that.I simply want to write in my search term in full, press enter and get a response. In words of one syllable for simple souls like me please can this be achieved? If so, how?

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