Feeds

Google's 'instant' search springs keyboard controls

Search watchers fear death by blue arrow

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

Google has introduced keyboard navigation to Google Instant, its "real-time" search engine, and though some users quite like it, at least one big-name search-marketing outfit sees it as yet another way the service is hindering search-marketing outfits.

This week, as it expanded Instant to additional Google search services, including Videos, News, Books, Blogs, Updates, and Discussions, Google also gave users the ability to navigate search results with their keyboard alone. "Our aim with Google Instant is to make search faster and easier, and this week we’re rolling out two enhancements to take that a step further," reads a blog post from the company. "First, we’ve introduced keyboard navigation to help you explore your Instant search results using just your keyboard, with no need for a mouse or touchpad."

Google Instant serves up search-results pages as you type, attempting to predict what you're looking for. Search results may refresh with every letter you type in. Basically, it's an extension of Google Suggest. Whereas Suggest, well, suggested possible searches, Instant suggests possible search pages. In certain countries, Google Instant is now the default search engine if you're signed into a Google account — but you do have the power to turn it off.

Keyboard navigation doesn't come into play until you actually hit the enter key, which freezes the search-results page. When you hit enter, Google places a blue arrow next to the top search result — whether its an ad or an "organic" result — and you can then use your keyboard arrow keys to move the blue arrow from one result to another. If you hit enter again, Google opens the page the arrow currently points to. You can see a demonstration here:

Firefox development head Mike Beltzner, for one, quite likes the tool — if not the rest of Google's new contraption. "Screw Google Instant; the keyboard UI on search results page is the real improvement," he says via Twitter. Indeed, the keyboard navigation has very little to do with Google Instant's instantness.

But UK-based search-marketing outfit Greenlight sees things a bit differently. Pay-per-click analyst Owen Browne argues that to the uninitiated, the blue arrow looks like an endorsement of the top link — which may be particularly problematic if that top link is an ad. "The arrow places an emphasis on the top result," he tells The Reg. "For any high-volume search term, that first result is going to be a paid search ad. The effect is that there may be a tendency for anyone below the first result to lose click-through rate."

And that means advertisers below the top result will have to bid even higher to achieve that result. It may also mean, Browne said, that if an ad received the blue-arrow treatment, the user is less likely to click on the first organic result. "We see Google as trying to get users to click on paid ads more that regular results," he said. "The arrow makes it look like Google is endorsing that first ads."

This week, Google also expanded Instant to twelve additional countries, including Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and the Netherlands. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.