The Google Animal House

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled “Google’s New Instant Search – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly“.  Since then I have had more time to talk to some Google users, Google power users, and Google advertisers to get their thoughts.  What I am hearing is that most Google users don’t think that instant search is saving them time or a very good user experience.

Google reminds me a lot of the Animal House angel and devil scene.  The little angel represents the user experience side of Google and the devil represents the financial revenue responsibility side of Google. As long as I have known Google I have seen these two sides face off against each other, sometimes they are in harmony and a great user experience generates a lot of money, and sometimes they are not.  Typically the “angel” wins out.

So I started to think, if most people don’t think instant search is a good user experience, then perhaps this an example of the “devil” winning out at Google?  Could these tough economic times be allowing the “devil” to get more say?  And if that is true, how does instant search make Google more money?  That’s when I had the a-ha moment.  I think it is about money!

Google’s advertisers spend a lot of money on generic keyword terms.  These “head” terms drive the vast majority of Google’s search auction revenues.  They are the highest priced keywords with the highest volumes.  As you start typing in Google, instant search automatically recommends (and shows advertising for) the most likely terms.  These recommended terms are the exact terms with the highest search volumes and the highest bid prices.

This is all a little scary to search advertisers who may make their money finding long tail terms for their clients, as customers type in these typically inexpensive keywords, Google will keep suggesting (and show advertising for) the expensive keywords along the way.  Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

The “devil” wins.

How is your user experience been with Google Instant Search?

About Adam Viener

Adam Viener is the Chairman & Founder of imwave, inc, a leading performance search engine marketing agency. Imwave focuses primarily on building and launching effective pay-per-click search engine keyword marketing campaigns for companies paying commissions on sales and leads generated. In 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012 Imwave was recognized as one of the fastest growing privately held companies by Inc. Magazine. Imwave recently announced they had served over 5 Billion ads for their clients!

Adam is also the founder of Yazing, a new site that not only pays you cash back on the things you buy online, but also lets you earn cash rewards recommending the top brands on the internet. Yazing gives you instant access to top commission rates from the leading online brands without having to join each affiliate network or program directly.

Adam, a serial internet entrepreneur, founded one of the first commercial internet service providers (ISPs) in 1993. He has a deep understanding of internet technologies and profitable internet marketing tactics.

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3 Responses to The Google Animal House

  1. vee sweeney says:

    Have you seen the stats for keyword searches in Google? I cannot remember the link, but I believe Google released the data themselves that proves that long tail key phrase searches are increasing in popularity. I actually find that when using Google Instant, that I pay more attention to the long phrases that pop up. Do I like Google Instant? Not in any way…I honestly find it annoying, but I don't agree that it hurts long tail key phrase marketers.

    • Adam Viener says:

      I think you have an interesting point. Perhaps Instant search will push people off the very tip of the head terms and move them more towards the meat of the head. I'm not sure it really pushes the searcher too far into the tail though. I would argue that the more specific "head" terms are really the highest priced keyword terms in the system.


  2. Bug says:

    Instant search is annoying. I type very quickly when searching, but I often mistype one character or two. Then the stupid Instant Search is starting on my mistake, and then I backspace and start over, and as a result, the whole browser starts choking. Maybe it is useful for when you type slowly and accurately! I would much rather hit the enter key.

    However, I find it useful when doing keyword research. Quickly testing singular and plural, for example.