Google has announced several changes that are coming soon to Google Suggest, the feature that suggests search queries as you type.
The two most interesting to me are the inclusion of ads and direct links in the search suggestions. Let’s take a look, starting with the suggested links.
If Google is confident about what you’re looking for, it may turn the first suggestion into a link. The example Google cites is a link to the official Kennedy Space Center web site as someone types “kennedy space cen.”
Users who already have access to the new feature have had fun trying to see how few characters they can type to get one of these navigational links; three seems to be the minimum found so far. Oh, and if you’re thinking there might be some favoritism at play in what links are tied to which queries — yes, typing “gma” brings up a link to Gmail, but typing “map” brings up a link to MapQuest, not Google Maps.
In some cases, Google may show an ad at the bottom of the suggestions. And for now, ads will only show from advertisers that Google has whitelisted.
Google makes an interesting choice of words in its announcement to describe when this might happen: “…sometimes we detect that the most relevant completion for what you’re typing is an ad.” It’ll be interesting to see how often ads show up in search suggestions; we (and others) have noticed that Google has been placing ads anywhere and everywhere for the past several months.
Other changes announced today include:
- In addition to the home page, suggestions will be offered from search results pages, too, and the first few suggestions may be related to your most recent search.
- Suggestions may tailored to your search history (if you’re logged in and have Web History enabled).
- Result counts won’t be shown anymore.
Google says these changes will be rolled out gradually. There’s more discussion on Techmeme.