Google Instantly Annoying

All the news this week in the search business is about Google Instant and how SEO is now dead. If you follow the same news sources I do, you could actually believe that nothing else happened in the whole entire world. In fact, other things did happen. Google settled the Buzz lawsuit for $8.5 million. Google is being investigated by the Texas Attorney General. Google had a document that leaked the ad spend of its customers. Google had a funky logo with balls that moved around. Google... well... they did some other stuff, too.



Anyhow, today we will stay focused on Google Instant because I'm sure by now you've only read five or six other opinions on it. I, of course, have my opinion as well and I'm going to subject you to it. The short version is: I think it's annoying and I've turned it off.

The main reason I dislike Google Instant is because it's just horribly distracting. As I type, the search box moves from the center of the screen to the top and results start shifting around. Maybe it's my proclivity to being easily distracted by shiny objects -- and is that a squirrel outside my window? I appreciate all of you who are even grinning a tiny bit right now. Seriously though, I could hardly type my search term. I mistyped it more than once.

There's also a good argument to be made that Google Instant is going to have a large impact on Adwords. You get one guess who that impact favors. Consider that you get very limited broad matching in your PPC campaign and that you buy very specific long tail terms using exact match. Google is now showing ads for more generic or broad-matched terms while a user is typing in that high-converting long-tail query that you've targeted. This means two things.  First, users are now potentially lost to you before they even finish their search. Second, broad match and generics are going to get more crowded and expensive. Hooray for Google shareholders.

I took some time to go hit Twitter and see what the search community thinks of Google Instant. There's a fun meme running right now that pretty much sums it up. It started with Susan Esparza from Bruce Clay Inc. Here are a few of my favorites:

susanesparza, google instant kills double-rainbows and kittens. I think it kicks puppies, too. let's blame it more.

dannysullivan: what do you blame google instant for? name your reason

graywolf: well @dannysullivan I blame google instant for solving the non-existant problem of google being too slow ... and world peace

Bill_Sebald: @dannysullivan Let's blame Google Instant for seizures. It's going to give me one by the end of the day...

So there you have it. I'd love to hear from some of you in the comments this week. So far the overwhelming response to Google Instant has been mostly negative. Is there something you like?

16 comments about "Google Instantly Annoying".
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  1. Michael Nevins from Smart, September 10, 2010 at 10:45 a.m.

    I use an igoogle page for google search. It doesn't display the "instant" results the way their Classic page does. I assume this was to leave my igoogle widgets persistent.

  2. Judith Cheney from, September 10, 2010 at 10:49 a.m.

    Going at it with humor is the squirrel comment.

    I find it distracting too and it's slow in keeping up with the letters I enter so I begin to think I didn't enter them. Too fast for slow small minds like mine. And I begin questioning the term I'm entering...did I really mean that? Does Google think I'm stupid? Google thinks I should be saying something else. Other people would be asking something else. I must be out of the loop. Nobody likes me. Google thinks I should just end it all now.

    Maybe I'm just overreacting...but what if I'm not?!!!
    Oh my.

  3. Cory Grassell from Alta Resources, September 10, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.

    If you consider receiving more relevant search results distracting, then I agree with you.

  4. Jon-Mikel Bailey from Wood Street, Inc., September 10, 2010 at 11:30 a.m.

    To me Google Instant is very cool but it also tightens the chokehold Google has on how I perform my searches.

  5. Josh Miller from Performics, September 10, 2010 at 11:38 a.m.

    Actually don't mind using it and have found myself even using some of their recommended queries.
    Do think it could change performance on adwords campaigns, though it really will depend on how most users interact with the tool.

  6. Colby Jones from MD Connect Inc, September 10, 2010 at 11:51 a.m.

    I have worked in Search before there was Google or paid listing and I predicted in 2002 the Google was the one media you cant live without when I was advertising on PPC for Kiehls and they bought the name of the their products only, no advertising on key words as they have a cult followig and rely heavily on word of mouth. I think Google is not to blame for dominating the marketplace, however I do think there is a limit to how much you can increase the click prices or complicate the ability of professional marketers like myself to fuction and sustain a business for hundreds of clients that rely on us each month. I was frankly very concerned about this launch, and only by reading this article did I realize that you can "turn off" Google instant and that gives me some peace of mind as the people - the consumers who are searching for relevant information are who is important here to Google. And in conclusion it is my opinion that ad words made seach more relevant than seo as the conversions are proof in and of themsleves. So it is in Googles best interest to allow the consumer to decide and I guess all of us marketers will have to wait and see... PS. Hi Danny S it's Colby who worked at Green Flas Systems in San Diego in 97. Cheers!

  7. Russell Cross from Prentke Romich, September 10, 2010 at 12:17 p.m.

    I'm with you on the "instantly annoying." I hate all that jumping around with "suggestions." Good news is that it doesn't happen if I use the search box on my personalized "iGoogle" home page. Phew!

  8. John Jainschigg from World2Worlds, Inc., September 10, 2010 at 12:18 p.m.

    Agree 100%. The UI is terrible -- it slows down people who are good at the mechanics of typing into screens, and throws caltrops in the path of folks who are good at a) framing search queries that return exactly what they want, and b) iterating rapidly to define the search-term space surrounding exactly what they want.

    Granted, in a world where most people are entering 'sex' or 'what large-screen TV should I buy?' this may not be an issue. But for someone who uses Google professionally in every aspect of their work, like me, it's a stone drag. I want my austere interface to all-the-world's-knowledge, and absolutely nothing else.

    What threatens Google in this matter, obviously, is not the potential for losing power-users -- we're commercially unimportant. What they should be thinking about is gimping the emergent dialogue around "search as a way of thinking about thinking -- i.e., of doing everything."

    Back in the day, people had to actually _know_ things, because nobody could carry the Library of Congress around on their backs. Google has, to large extent, stuffed that library into a tiny box and made it instantly accessible via billions of points of entry, which is a huge boon to humanity -- I mean, the Great Library of Alexandria pales by comparison to this achievement. But in the process, they also changed the nature of what it means to 'know stuff.' And made certain other skills highly valuable -- like, for example, the ability to retain and manipulate schemas of phraseology around topics and within constrained linguistic and cultural matrices, so it's possible to enter one search-phrase and come up with EXACTLY the article you're looking for about Thomas Pynchon's new book, by the guy who writes program-summaries for the radio station France Culture. You can't do this unless you either have a long, long list of search terms to start with, or a strong functional grasp of how French radio talks about itself online.

    This may seem obscure, but higher-order search users do this all the time, even with trivial stuff. Being 'good with Google' is an amazing and beautiful skill. And it feels as though this new Instant feature wolfs against the ethos of 'understanding how population X talks about topic Y online, so you can find stuff really efficiently,' in a clumsy attempt to duplicate aspects of that process for ... well ... the less-bright.

  9. David Wilson from AMN Healthcare, September 10, 2010 at 2:44 p.m.

    I agree with Todd's point that is will make more searchers use a smaller group of keyword phrases, whether out of laziness (not wanting to finish typing) or discovering better query (oh, that's what I should be searching). The result will be fewer long tail query variations, benefitting the big sites with link authority (SEO) and benefitting Google for paid search, because, as Todd points out, there will be greater competition for fewer key phrases (= higher CPC and lower ROI). They have essentially greased the skids for searchers to slide into well-worn tracks, which Google will make you pay dearly to have lead to your destination.

  10. Bryant Garvin from Choice Hotels International, September 10, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.


    I am glad someone finally mentioned at least one paragraph about how it would impact paid ads. Also that the real reason behind this was like you said, to push people to the shorter broader queries instead of the 25% of queries Google has said it gets daily that they have never seen or not seen in the last 90 days. Not only will this like you mentioned drive up the competitive landscape and pricing for those terms but, it could also drive down costs. Think if they could even cut 5% off of that 25% number they have touted(as why you need broad match) they could save a considerable amount on processing, and storing those "newly made-up" search queries.

    Ohh and instead of being negative a positive thing to come of this: with the "annoyance" factor they potentially opened the door even further for new (or old) competition to try and take some of those "newly dis-infatuated" users.

    Of course this is all just my-oh look a cactus out my window- ummm humble opinion.

  11. Chris Stinson from Non-Given, September 10, 2010 at 4:27 p.m.

    Turned it off quickly.....only thing more annoying is flash.

  12. Sandy Miller from Success Communications, September 10, 2010 at 4:56 p.m.

    I didn't realize it was starting and first time my search box jumped up I thought my computer was broken. Then it kept doing it and I realize it's just Google that's broken.

    Very annoying. I think they have so much money at this point they are just doing things to mess w/us...just because they can.

  13. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 10, 2010 at 5:40 p.m.

    Bing !

  14. Kenn Gorman, September 13, 2010 at 1:50 p.m.

    As a high school teacher, students do not need anything else to distract them - this could be a big issue. Since I am a technology teacher, I plan to cover this in detail, along with continuing the teach that Google is not the internet...and that there are many, many other search engines and specialized databases that will return academically relevant results.

  15. Michael Schwartz, September 15, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.

    As somebody who works for an <a href="">internet marketing services</a> company, I too have found Google Instant to be fairly clunky. The goal is to make search easier, but really it makes things longer when it takes time to load results that aren't anywhere close to what I want as I continue to type. It also is just one more thing to give the big brands an advantage in this space. I wonder when Instant will go the way of Google Wave....

  16. Cory Grassell from Alta Resources, October 4, 2010 at 11:44 a.m.

    We just released an interesting POV paper on this topic ("Is It Instant Local Search?"). It's free at

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