back to article Google Instant sinks raft of search controls

In rolling out Google Instant – a new incarnation of its search engine that serves up results in "real-time" as you type – Mountain View has also made several peripheral changes to the way its engine traditionally operates. Following the arrival of Google Instant, the Google Operating System blog – a third-party blog not …


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  1. DZ-Jay

    Title Shmitle

    Is it me, or do most of the changes seem to increase the potential for ad exposure of users?

    - "you can no longer change the number of results that appear on a page"

    More page views = more impressions.

    - "Google has also capped the number of Google Suggest suggestions at five"

    Less suggestions, more broad results = more user searches = more impressions.

    - "Google has removed the search box that used to appear at the bottom of the page"

    Scroll back up = be exposed again to the "Sponsored Links" at the top.

  2. JeffyPooh

    LOL - they still don't admit that pR0n exists...

    I just HAD to test it...

    If you type in the usual pR0n search terms (try "puss..." as an example), Google Instant instantly 'backs slowly away' from suggesting anything naughty. Considering that something like 104% of all Internet searches are for pR0n, it's funny that they don't admit it yet.

    Wot a hoot.

    1. Chris 244

      It's true!

      Type "boobi" and you get nothing (not even "blue-footed").

      Type "Bulgarian airb", however...

  3. John Tserkezis

    Their marketing team should be shot.

    It has more recently been publicised that it is not available in Australia, "yet".

    Yet I've seen it, and have indeed used some of the suggestions in the past couple of months.

    But they've broken it again till it's "officially" released here.

    So, as per usual, we're good enough to test something, but not good enough to deploy.

    Even the workaround re-directs to the more usual

    Really, do they go on training courses to learn how to piss off their users?

  4. The Unexpected Bill

    'Fade In' Home Page

    I can only guess, but I suppose they killed off the fade in page because, well, it was pointless. If you so much as moved your mouse pointer into the page, stuff faded in almost instantly. Even if you didn't, it'd be there in seconds.

    I didn't (and still don't) usually use those links, but I found it distracting to see them appear. And while I'm a good typist, even the shortest of search queries could not be entered before the other links appeared. (My reaction time is fairly slow.)

    As far as the new "instant" search results go, I don't like the "feel" of it. Maybe that will change as I get used to it. I don't know. I will miss the long list of suggestions, though. Sometimes an interesting tidbit or a reason to be worried about the state of humanity in general would show up...

  5. Mark Zip

    What is "naughty"?

    My sister's book "The Wisdom of Whores" is a serious look at "bureaucrats, brothels and the business of AIDS". There is an accompanying blog which is well regarded in the sex, science, data nerd and epi circles in which she travels.

    A Google Instant Search on "wisdom of" yields suggestion and pages of results for "wisdom of crowds" and "wisdom of solomon". A search for "wisdom of w" yields "wisdom of wolves". Yet "wisdom of wh" yields the white page of death, as does "wisdom of whores".

    They do helpfully tell us to hit "enter" to make the search happen, as we did before. But how soon will the masses forget the old ways, adapt to the new instant page and perceive the white page of death as a search with no results and move on?

    Ugh. Google is erring on the side of stupidity here. Do they really think that not showing pages and suggestions for "whores" once someone has gotten as far as "wisdom of wh" is going to save their users' blushes?

    Perhaps if I were feeling charitable I might ascribe it to their desire to keep the bandwidth bill down. But I don't think so.

    1. scrubber
      Big Brother

      And so it begins

      Right from the start people were worried about the power of search providers (and internet gatekeepers) and this is exactly the kind of moral nannying/censorship that we were afraid of.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Inconsistent crap

      Yeah, "Wisdom of wh" is a blank result, yet "whore" gives "whorehouse" as the first suggestion.

      FWIW, I won't be using this 'feature' purely because I like to have 50 search results given to me, so I can scroll down the list. I figure if what I'm looking for isn't in the first 50, it needs different search terms or it just doesn't exist.

      Kinda funny when you think about it, that the main search is evolving to show LESS at once, while the image search has just evolved to show so much more.

  6. tony72

    Google is losing it

    Google seems to be increasingly focusing on superficial slickness and increased ad revenue, while the actual usefulness of their search engine is decreasing, due to annoying features and dumbing down.

    Let me give you an example; last night while searching for book reviews, I typed in "deepsix jack mcdevitt review" (Deepsix being the title of the book I was interested in, note "Deepsix", not "Deep Six"). Now in days of yore, Google would have (and still does in many instances, don't ask me the whys and wherefores) prompted me with something like "Did you mean deep six jack mcdevitt?" and shown me the first two results on those keywords. That's annoying enough (I actually wrote a greasemonkey script to remove those lines), because 99.9% of the time I meant what I bloody well typed in the first place, and that prompt is pointless and a waste of space.

    But in this case Google didn't do that, it just went ahead and used its "corrected" keywords. I get "Showing results for _deep six jack mcdevitt review_". And I have to click another link "Search instead for _deepsix jack mcdevitt review_" in order to search for the fucking keywords I correctly entered in the first place. Yes, Google now thinks it now better than I do what I want to search for, to the extent it just flat out overrides my queries. That is infuriating, and I'm on the verge of ditching Google for search because of this kind of crap.

    1. Guido Esperanto

      on your first paragraph

      to summarise google is trying to get more for doing less.

      sounds perfectly like a business to me.

      I find it strange that because google has nurtured its way through the web years people have become so comfortable with it, they believe it serves "their" best interests.

      This could not be further from the truth. The interest is google's and their alone. As long as they can best serve the people paying them money, the "freeloaders" can just find another search engine.

      And to tip my hat to google, there are no real notable "excellent" alternatives.

    2. roknich

      don't forget to duck, duck -

      if you were about to ditch Google, consider

      is simple but effective and does not store your search history and/or share it with anyone who asks

  7. Gordon Barret

    Less than useless

    Sorry, although this is quite a "clever" feature of superb programming - it is yet another useless feature that should never have seen the light of day.

    I don't know about you, but I (and the vast majority of computer users I would imagine) are actually looking at the keyboard whilst typing, not the screen.

    I can type reasonable well with only an occasional glance at the keyboard, but that is just showing off really, to make sure I type in what I think I am typing in I will be looking at the keyboard as I type.

    If I have to keep looking up at the screen after every single keypress to see what is happening on-screen then it going to make things slow. Very slow. And all the extra communications to/from their web server wil be just adding to the useless junk flowing through "those internet pipes" to leave less space for everything else.

    1. Thecowking

      Sorry to disagree

      But pretty much everyone I know who's a regular computer user is a touch typist. Hell my keyboard's lost a fair chunk of the letters on the keys, but I don't notice because I can't remember the last time I looked at it.

      While I don't really use google's home page any more (there's a reason they put a search box in most browsers), I can see that it might be useful. Of course the search box itself has had a suggestion feature for years now too.

      Even my mother, who's not exactly a tech-expert, graduated to touch typing a few years ago. Thinking about it so did my grandfather. I don't think I know any hunt and peck typists anymore.

      1. Kubla Cant
        Thumb Down


        "pretty much everyone I know who's a regular computer user is a touch typist".

        Rubbish. In common with most IT professionals, although I spend most of my working life on a keyboard, I can't touch-type. It might be useful, but the numerous mistakes I make while learning have always deterred me. When keyboard use becomes essential before you learn, you never get round to it.


    They Broke Google Maps

    That's nothing, I tried using Google Maps yesterday and was relentlessly frustrated by it changing the search terms I'd entered into the text box.

    I typed in a specific name of a place at a town in a county and whenever I zoomed into one of the suggestins on the map, the search terms truncated, but this meant that the results in the left-side bar changed, and I wasn't able to zoom out click on another place and then return to the place I'd first clicked on.

    I ended up having to repeatedly re-type the full search querie to get the reults I'd had, every time I zoomed in and back out again!

    It actually sent me off to use Bing Maps FFS! (Until I relaised it wouldn't work in Firefox without me enabling DOM storage for it).

  9. stim


    god i hope bing doesn't copy this, i've been a convert to bing for sometime now, but that new instant search google has brought out actually makes me feel a bit seasick... Really horrible choppy experience...

  10. Paul 185

    RE: What is "naughty"?

    The risk for Google is serving lewd content that the user did not request. Given the proportion of the net dedicated to porn, imagine how many "concerned mothers" would be blabbering to anyone that will listen about their Timothy seeing a nipple while searching for something innocent.

    Not that I agree, I think it's ridiculous. But it's not really Google's fault. Blame the frigid American Christian majority that will shriek in horror at the mere suggestion of sexuality, and their counterpart media outlets that feed them this drivel.

  11. Paul 185

    RE: 'Fade In' Home Page

    This is pure guesswork, but i'm thinking they were returning just the search box straight away when the page is requested, then use some kind of ajax system to serve the rest of the links, decreasing load time very very marginally?

  12. camfox

    Mountain View - Home of Soylent Communications

    You gotta stop calling Google "Mountain View". It's a dominant company, yeah, but it's more than just Google:,_California#Economy

    1. Daniel Evans

      Ah, sorry sir.

      Seems we'll have to stop using the terms "Redmond" and "Cupertino" in future too, all for your peace of mind, sir.

      You'd probably be a lot happier if we didn't say "Washington", "Moscow" or "Beijing", too, sir?

      Or, alternatively, you could stop being a twat. Actually, yes, I think that would be much better.

    2. YetiSeti

      Internet == Google

      That's right. We should just start calling the internet Google.

  13. petur
    Thumb Up

    'Fade In' Home Page

    Good to see the fade stuff gone, I hated it too, but for the reason I actually use the links a lot.

    I can now deactivate the GreaseMonkey script that disabled the fading :)

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  14. Jeff Power

    $%&* the title

    I'm very happy to see the fade in effect disappear. It was somewhat irritating as it slowed down the speed at which I could enter a search query. With the fade in the cursor would take a few extra moments to appear in the search box. (This was a problem because: if I'm going to Google, I've got a pretty good idea what I intend to type when I get there, usually; not every computer I regularly access is either fast, or tweakable for various reasons. This was not exactly a huge thing, but I'm at the bloody website for a purpose, and if you slow me down more than what I have become accustomed to, you are an impediment to me and therefore deserve my ire.)

    1. Gordon Barret

      Title required etc etc etc

      Not so - every time I went to google I could type in immediately and press enter to do the search, waiting for the top links to fade in has *never* been required.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People still go to

    Seriously, people still actually type in their address bar, go to google, then type in a query? ctrl+k puts me in the search box, type a search and hit enter. Every big change to google's home page or new doodle I have found out about through the Reg or Slashdot because I don't use their home page.

    And if they continue with stuff like the forced wallpaper experiment or silly "doodle follows the mouse" thing, I will actively avoid it.

  16. Studley
    Thumb Up

    You missed out a critical bugfix

    If you type Google into Google, it no longer breaks the internet. Long overdue.

    1. southern skies

      IT Crowd

      I loved that episode - must pull out the DVD tonight.

  17. Ian Geek
    Thumb Down

    One other slight problem...

    It sometimes makes results significantly worse.

    More specifically, the "intelligent" prediction routine has a fairly significant flaw from a useful Search (and SEO) point of view, in that hitting 'space' after a keyword reloads the results based on what it considers the most popular *following* word would be, rather than the keywords you've already entered. While this may be intended to save time, it causes problems if you're not sure on the best keywords to use for a result, and trying to refine them as you go.

    For example, I needed to find the kanji for the word "japanese" the other day and found myself staring puzzled at pages of results for "japanese knotweed", having not twigged I'd hit space on autopilot. Lost me a good 5 seconds there, I can tell you..

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      @Ian Geek

      Oh dear, now you've gone and done it. Now you've let it get established in Google it can't be long before *every* search term returns nothing but pages of results for "japanese knotweed".

  18. gimbal

    Oh noes, they can't make all of us happy

    So, the Googmeisters can't please everyone. What news!... not.

    1. The Dark Lord

      Re: Oh noes...

      No, the news here is that Google is using software algorithms to enforce their view of what we should be searching for onto us, but are branding it as "helpfulness". Google has now joined Apple, in being the recipient of the "JUST USE WHAT I FUCKING TYPED" rant.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Eponymous Howard

    Fade in

    I would guess fade in was killed off because it was quite incredibly fucking annoying.Something whose sole purpose is to hide stuff you want does not have zero utility, it has negative utility.

  21. Gerry Doyle 1

    Localised Google?

    Apparently Google is serving the new version on a geographical basis. Here in Ireland it's still the same old Google home page.

  22. The Dorset Rambler

    Not sure...

    I still can't work out whether this is good or bad for adwords users and what it means for SEO.

    I suspect (but have no proof) that impressions might rise with clicks remaining level - I believe that if the results returned stay on the page for more than three seconds it counts as an impression. If that happens then the click through rate will decrease, the cost per click to me will rise and Google gets more of my money for the same result..

    Time will tell.


  23. Daisy O'Byrne

    Google Instant

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates the new hint application. It annoys me no end. Along with everyone else, I typed in what I wanted and didn't need all those "hints" about what I might be wanting. I guess there's nothing to be done about it?

    (Why don't you have an icon showing a little old lady?)

  24. Relgoshan


    Haha suckers, I'll have you know that Google can't suggest ANYthing when you disable javascript for; takes you back to a simple query-in-results-out searchbox. Of course if your browser can't do per-site preferences you shouldn't be on El Reg.

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