What Ever Happened to Google Instant?

google instant

Seven years and around 800 million mobile devices later, Google Instant is no more.

Where did we get that almost-a-billion figure, you ask? Well, it comes from the 2010 to 2017 growth in global mobile device sales.

In 2010, mobile device manufacturers sold 1.6 billion units. Back then, that was already a shocking number.

Then came 2017, which experts said was a year wherein 2.4 billion people used a smartphone. That’s right: Almost a billion increase in only seven years.

It’s because of this massive increase that Google dropped Instant in the first place.

What’s the connection? And why did the search engine giant even roll out the Instant search feature in the first place?

This post will cover all that (plus a few other bonus deets), so make sure you keep reading!

What is – or was – Google Instant?

Launched September 08, 2010, Google Instant promised to revolutionize the web search world. In fact, Marissa Mayer (now the CEO of Yahoo!) went as far as to call it a “fundamental shift in search”.

So, what is Google Instant?

Heads up: We’ll start talking about it in past tense, since in essence, it’s already a thing of the past.

Taking out the tech speak, Instant was a predictive feature of Google search. Remember how when you typed even a single letter on the search box, “suggestions” popped out?

Instant was behind those predictions that you saw in a drop-down box. And behind those predictive search terms was Google’s autocomplete technology.

Say you typed in the letter S on the search box.

If Instant was still alive, it most likely would’ve predicted “Skype” or “Skyscanner”. In that case, you would’ve seen both search terms on the list of predicted words or phrases.

If you keyed in more than the letter S, the predictions would’ve refreshed. Basically, its suggested search keywords changed based on the letters you typed in.

All these would’ve taken place without you even hitting the “Search” button or the “Enter” key.

Why Google Decided It Could Help Users with their Search Activities

The search engine giant said there were three main benefits to Google Instant search.

First was the time savings. Google research showed that the feature could save users up to five seconds for every search.

Second was the smarter, more efficient predictions. In other words, predicted keywords or phrases that may actually be what you’re looking for.

Third is convenience. Since you didn’t have to click the search button or hit enter, it promised to save you from expending more effort.

What Went Wrong Then?

Depending on who you ask, some will say that it never was something we needed.

But if you look at it from a technical perspective, it’s more of what changed than what went wrong. That change we’re referring to is the growth in mobile device usage.

Today, two-thirds of the entire world’s population now own some type of mobile phone. That translates to about 5 billion mobile phone users.

Granted, not all are smart phones, but they still account for half of that figure.

This is where the Google predictive search dilemma came in.

Google Instant just wasn’t designed to work for mobile browsing.

There’s the fact that mobile browsing involves using on-screen keyboards. The boards alone already take up a considerable space of the device’s screen.

Predictions and search results that keep popping up on a tiny screen can drive anyone mad.

Then, there’s the finger tapping instead of key pressing.

Let’s admit it.

Many of us already have issues hammering out letters because of our so-called “fat fingers”. In fact, it’s such a common concern developers came out with an app exactly for “fat-finger typists“!

So, imagine if Google Instant results kept loading on top of that mini keyboard. You’re right: It would be even more frustrating.

We all know that Google is all about delivering top-notch customer experience. But it can’t deliver that on mobile search, what with all these issues.

That’s something Google can’t – and will not – disregard. Especially not with mobile search now accounting for more than half of all web traffic.

All that said, you no longer have to wonder why it decided to axe the Instant feature.

What You Can Learn from All These

First, that you’d want to be like Google when it comes to delivering customer experience.

Keep in mind that the company now owns 90% of the search engine market sector. The efforts they expend to provide exceptional customer satisfaction contribute to this.

There’s also the fact they keep launching updates to their search algorithms. The 500 to 600 updates they launch every year is to keep enhancing search experience.

These formula changes also help them keep black hat SEO technique users at bay. Such illegal strategies bring down search quality, so they should be a big no-no for you too.

An Even Bigger Takeaway

If mobile-related activities weren’t important, we doubt Google would’ve axed it. But that’s not the case.

Granted, mobile searches may only account for a little over half of all Internet traffic. But mobile has taken over desktop and will continue doing so in the future.

Think about the 77% of Americans who already own a smartphone. Think about how they spend an average of five hours on their mobile devices.

All these should already tell you that you need to go mobile too. If you don’t, then your target market will have a hard time finding your business.

Going mobile allows you to boost your SEO campaigns’ results too. One is because Google now considers mobile friendliness a crucial ranking factor.

Mind you, there are over 200 factors that influence Google search ranking results. Many of these have a direct (and indirect) relation with how users conduct mobile searches.

The mobile-first index Google rolled out early this year should be enough proof.

Dropping What You Need to Drop from Your Digital Marketing Campaigns

What happened to Google Instant is an example of how customer experience is a top priority. Imagine how all those years of formula-making and improving are now gone.

For the sake of delivering only the best search experience to customers.

So, take a page out of Google’s book. Make the same changes or revisions to your own digital marketing campaigns.

If you’re unsure of where to start, know that we can help. Ring us up now so you can start meeting the standards of great customer experience!