Google Launches Google Instant, Search Results That Stream Instantly As You Type

marissa mayer

Google‘s big search event is set to kick off at 12:30 EST.

We’ve already got a good idea of what one of the main announcements will be: live streaming search results as you type. But we expect there’s more.

We aren’t there, but we’ll be following the live stream and blogging about it here. Join us.

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Live Blog begins here:

12:30 – Here we go. Nothing happening yet but futuristic sound effects and graphics. We should be underway any minute now.

12:34 – We’re still just watching an animated laser light show.

12:36 – And we’re live!

12:37 – Send questions to [email protected] during the presentation, and Google might answer them at the end.

12:38 – “What we do at Google, and in search in particular, is really one part art, one part science.”

12:39 – OK, Marissa Mayer is up.

12:40 – MM: In 2010, we’ve already rolled out more than 500 changes to search rankings and UI.

12:41 – MM: Google has more than 1 billion weekly users.

12:43 – We’ve been promised the big announcement is coming, but now we’re doing a quick review of things rolled out over the past year or so. Caffeine, redesign, starring results, etc.

12:44 – Now we’re all watching the Paris Love Super Bowl commercial together. Chokes me up every time.

12:45 – @owenthomas: “Since everyone’s going to ask me anyway, @marissamayer is wearing a flawlessly bedazzled but not outrĂ© outfit at the @google event.”

12:46 – “A fundamental shift to search.” Here we go!

12:47 – And now we’re talking about Matisse and “painterly intent.” Stay on target, Marissa!

12:49 – It takes a user on average 9 seconds to enter a search. Then a few hundred milliseconds on the servers. Then the user looks at the results for about 15 seconds.

12:50 – Search takes 25 seconds, but optimization efforts are all focused on just the one second of transmission/processing.

12:51 – Well, not really. Redesign, Google Suggest, etc. are focused on the other 24. But now we’re really getting serious about it.

12:52 – The product: Google Instant. That’s what the live, streaming results are called.

12:52 – Now Marissa is showing it off. She starts typing ‘sfm’ and search results for the San Francisco MOMA start popping up.

12:54 – Google Suggest is still there, so you can scroll down to different completed results, and have the results below update below as you scroll down to them.

12:55 – MM: People call this search as you type. But it’s really search before you type. We don’t search for what you’ve typed so far, we search for what we think you’re most likely to have typed when you’re done. “So there’s a psychic element as well.”

12:56 – Marissa is now pointing out that this is so cool and futuristic, it was once one of their April Fools announcements. Sort of.

12:57 – Coming to select browsers today: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and IE. Rolling out across U.S. today and then a handful of other countries within the week.

12:58 – “We estimate this will save our users 2-5 seconds per query.” That will save people 11 aggregate hours per second.

12:59 – Now we have a pair of engineers up to talk details.

1:01 – A round of applause when a Googler looks up the weather with one key stroke. He presses ‘w’, and Google guesses he’s asking about the weather, and uses his location to check the weather in San Francisco specifically.

1:02 – As you type, Google puts what you have typed in black, and how it thinks you will complete that search in grey, right in the search bar.

1:05 – The beauty of Google Instant, we’re told, is that it gives you feedback as you search. People try searches, then hit enter, and see if they are getting the right sort of results, or if they’re getting results for something else with a similar name. Now they can see what’s going wrong in realtime, and adjust their searching strategy accordingly.

1:06 – “What the heck is the search button even there for at this point?”

1:07 – Answer: It forces Google to search for exactly what you’ve typed, without predicting how you’ll finish that search.

1:08 – Example: If you type ‘NY’, Google Instant guesses you’re searching for NY Times and shows you those results. But if you hit enter after ‘NY’, you get results for New York.

1:11 – That’s all for what’s coming today, but here’s a sneak preview of something coming soon: Google Instant for mobile.

1:12 – “Later this fall” Instant will be available for mobile. A Googler just showed it off on a Droid. Looks pretty sharp.

1:17 – Googlers have been “dogfooding” — eating their own dogfood by testing Instant — for months.

1:18 – Boy does Google love testing. They’ve been bringing people in to their office, and tracking where their eyes are focused while they search. (People look at the search box into which they’re typing.)

1:20 – “Search results have so far been a simple HTML page. Now we’re making them an AJAX application.”

1:23 – “How do we possibly do this without melting down our servers?” If the average search is 20 characters, and search results are updated with every character, Google is suddenly doing 20 times as many searches. Bad!

1:25 – Here’s how: Prioritization. Google gives predictive searches a higher priority if it is more confident in the prediction. Also improvements to caching, and “many more optimizations.”

1:26 – Google Instant started with one engineer a year ago, then doubled every six weeks until today.

1:28 – “Having used it for a few months, I feel sure that this is the future of search.”

1:29 – “I believe that Google Instant is one of those changes that will seem so obvious in retrospect that you’ll wonder how search was ever any other way.”

1:30 – Marissa is back up.

1:31 – “During this presentation Google Instant will have saved 36,000 hours of our users’ time.”

1:32 – Now we’re watching a Google Instant movie set to Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues!

1:33 – Q&A time! They haven’t said anything about ad impressions in the new regime yet, but presumably they’ll have to soon.

1:36 – Yep. “We do our best to calculate what a search is.” Something is an impression if there is a click or if there is a three second pause. (This mostly matters for metrics, since Google’s search ads are sold on a CPC basis, which should be unaffected.)

1:37 – The same rule — 3 second pause or a click — governs which searches go into your search history.

1:38 – AdAge’s Irina Slutsky points out that her last name has been blacklisted from showing up in Instant results.

1:41 – Sergey Brin: “We want Google to be the third half of your brain.”

1:50 – A few questions about SEO. Google’s response: nothing about rankings is changing. Over time, search behaviour will probably change. Then SEO will have to adapt.

1:58 – “Our ads are a great part of our user experience.”

1:59 – Questions from online have been uniformly silly. Email in some good ones before this thing is over!

2:01 – Fun user testing trivia: apparently tons of users play around with Instant, retyping different versions of the same search over and over trying to bring particular results to the top. Lighting fast SEO testing.

2:03 – That’s it! Thanks for joining us!

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