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How Does Google Instant Search Work?

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Google Instant Search has generated many comments and questions from users since it was introduced last year.  Some long-time Google users complained that it was an unwelcome and confusing change, while others reported finding Instant as a very useful and more efficient means of searching for the results they wanted.

However, there is a fundamental question that many reading this may still be pondering: What is Google Instant Search? Superficially, this is apparent: Start typing a search term, and Google offers suggestions about what it believes your intended search term is. It also shows real-time search results that instantly update with every new keystroke. But have you ever wondered how Google decides on what to suggest as you’re typing?

Based on real searches

The suggestions that Google offers are all based on searches that people actually make. These are real, popular searches that Google users have made before. Being that Google has recorded literally billions of searches, it is in a good position to predict what search term you have in mind.

Varies by region & language

However, not everyone sees the same suggestions. Depending on the historical search trends of your country, state or city, Google may produce different suggestions for you.

Language may also have an impact. Different suggestions will appear if you’ve told Google previously that you prefer to search in a particular language.

Previously searched suggestions

Your individual search behaviour has an effect as well. Suggestions may also contain the terms you have previously searched, if you make use of Google’s Web History feature. If this is the case, then you may see an option to ‘Remove’ a search term from the Google’s list of suggestions, indicating that you’ve clicked on this keyword before.

Ranking hierarchy

Is this simply a case of the more popular the search, the higher it appears in Google’s list of suggestions?

Popularity is definately a factor, but some less common searches that Google deems more relevant to you may be shown above more popular ones. However, personalised searches with the ‘Remove’ option will always come before others.

Ever been curious about how other gadgets work on Google? Shoot me through your questions now!

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