Google has announced, and is currently rolling out, GOOGLE INSTANT to their primary search interface (Google.com). What is Google Instant? Is it another way to help make searching faster and more convenient, according to Google. Specifically, when you start typing in your letters into the search box, you will now see search results appear as you type. Previously, Google added a feature that showed you search query suggestions as you typed. This was very similar to the auto-complete input boxes you see on many websites. Google Instant goes quite a bit farther by actually completing the search queries for each of those variations as you type and displaying the results as you go...
From a technologist perspective, first-off, WOW. Think about how much extra load this is putting on the Google server network and database infrastructure. The increase in volume from this change is simply amazing. When they introduced the auto-complete feature I was able to rationalize that they had built a huge bank of servers dedicated to auto-completion. But this is actually showing core search results. This can't be spoofed. It just makes you realize how many resources, both engineering, human and information technology (i.e., servers) Google has access to.
From a search marketing perspective, there are many interesting notes about this change. The first of which is that impressions for ads are going to go through the roof for some terms. Why? They are showing ads along side the search results as you type. So if I was looking for a car rental in Rochester, I would likely see national ads for "car rental" as I type in "car rental Rochester." I can certainly see Google's motivation in this change. Increase the impressions and grab interest from people as they are typing. Google has presented this as an "enhancement to the user experience" but I'm not sure I buy that. It seems to me they are better able to steer people toward certain results as they type using this method. For more on the impact to advertisers see this article.
For the non-marketers, I will be interested to hear what they think about the change. For more information from the business end, see this quick video from MarketWatch. What's notable to me in this video is how the analyst points to Bing as "serious competition" for Google. This is something we have not heard discussed in the search engine business in a long time. I think it's health, and about time.