Google updating results during search – what are the impacts

by Peter Young on August 22, 2010 · 5 comments

Rob Ousbey, from Distilled found this interesting test from Google where search results are updated on the fly. This is an interesting development as it could have a number of impacts on search behaviour. Interestingly, Rob Managed to pull together a video of it in action.

The following was observed as part of this latest test:

  • Users results are updated as they type
  • Users do not need to click on search to update their results
  • Paid Search results update as well as organic
  • Blended search results update as well as the other results

Perhaps the biggest impact on these latest tests could be on the following

  1. Paid Search CTR. Just imagine, if this works as it looks as though it does. Every time I am typing my phrase in the results update. Every time the paid search result updates, this updates the PPC result. This could mean that my advert could get a significantly higher volume of impressions than it did previously which in turn could have an impact on the performance and accountability of the paid search ads. Let me put this into context. One of the factors which impacts Paid Search Quality Score, is click through rate. By increasing the potential impressions on non-relevant searches – particularly on phrase or broad heavy searches – the likelihood is the quality score may be impacted and thus advertisers may pay more for their ads as their quality score is lower than it would have been on previous incarnations or under the results page current guise.
  2. Search behaviour. Much of the recent research tends to suggest users have been favouring longer tail searches particularly since Google introduced Google Suggest. With the results now impacting on the fly, users may again start to favour much shorter tail terms for entry into the site, as they potentially find the results they want much earlier. Commercially again this may impact the paid search inventory more as much of these results are often more expensive in terms of CPC and thus likely to cost more to potential advertisers as a result.

From a usability perspective, I actually quite like the thought of it, however from an advertiser perspective, I can’t help thinking this could have some quite significant impacts, not least in terms of commercial accountability of the paid search results particularly on accounts where due diligence may not have been placed on the ongoing optimisation of the accounts, or where keyword matching may not have been particularly tight – I would suggest exact/phrase match phrases would be impacted far less.

This is still fairly limited in terms of its rollout however I will certainly be keeping a very close eye on this one

Google+ Comments

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nichola Stott August 23, 2010 at 10:30 am

Hi Pete. Have you come across anyone else reporting this? I can’t believe that this is pulling the sponsored listings on the fly as well. They must have a bucket for this, otherwise those metrics will look like impression spam, not to mention huge/anomalous query spikes and seriously low CTR.

On the other hand, allowing the user to see results on the fly, will lead to greater tendency to adjust the query, rather than complete the query and go past page one – hence more 1st page interaction, greater potential for relevancy.

I’d love to see that data!

Peter Young August 23, 2010 at 10:48 am

Mashable covered this in quite a lot of details – and the video itself highlights the changing nature of the PPC results in a lot of detail.

Their quote was as follows:

Google makes its money by displaying contextual ads based on your searches. You’d think this would make that more challenging, but as far as we can tell from the video, those ads are updated live along with your search results.

http://mashable.com/2010/08/21/google-live-search-results/

Nichola Stott August 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

Perfect, thanks.
Seems like it definitely is purely a bucket test at the mo.Will be interesting to see if this rolls out fully and what the advertiser feedback is like.

Peter Young August 23, 2010 at 11:02 am

Agreed – I think feedback will be mixed. I think users will like it but advertisers may not be quite so keen as my personal thoughts are that this may impact on their bottom line.

Danny Denhard September 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Hi guys, this is now live http://www.google.com/webhp?sclient=psy personally do not like it and will have a negative effect on users and seo’ers will have to up there game.
This will hinder Google

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