Sep 082010
 

SearchToday, Google announced the implementation of their new search enhancement called “Google Instant”. Google Instant shows results as you are typing and tries to predict the keywords as you type.  Type a single letter and you will get a drop-down box that changes as you enter more letters.  If you were online yesterday and noticed Google’s logo made up of moving balls you might have wondered what was up.  They would only say that it would be a good week.  Now we know why.

The predictive nature of this search feature works very quickly.  Type in one single letter and you get a list of keywords and phrases in a drop-down box below the cursor starting with that letter.  It is supposed to be tied to the user’s search habits but I haven’t noticed a difference whether I am logged in or not.  Perhaps the search preferences are tied to a cookie on my machine that does not matter whether you are logged in.  More research will be needed to see if that is true.

I did notice that the search results appear to be tied somewhat to your location.  Here are the single letter suggestions that I discovered for the alphabet.  A = “Amazon”,  B = “Best Buy” and so on… Craigslist; Duke Energy; Ebay; Facebook; Gmail; Hotmail; Ikea; Jungle Jims; Kings Island; Lowes; Mapquest; Netflix; Ohio BMV; Pandora; Quotes; Reds; Sears; Target; USPS; Verizon Wireless; Weather; Xavier University; Youtube;  Zoomtown.  You may be able to tell that I live near Cincinnati as some of the these suggestions are not national search terms.  Jungle Jim’s is a very unique local supermarket and Kings Island is our local amusement park (great coasters, by the way).

Google Instant isn’t available everywhere just yet.  Google is starting its roll-out to users on Google domains in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use the following browsers: Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8. Users on domains other than Google.com can only access Google Instant if they are signed in to a Google Account. Google will add new domains and languages over the next several months.

The benefit to Internet searchers will be that the people who hunt and peck as they type will be able to skip a lot of typing and click the phrase they want.  Google believes this will raise the bar by providing searches more quickly.  I believe the real benefit will come when Google Instant is available on a mobile platform where typing can be unbelievably slow and predictive search terms would be a tremendous benefit.

For Google AdWords customers, your ads will be displayed when a user stops typing for 3 seconds, the user clicks the search button or by simply moving the mouse onto the page outside the search form.  This may lead to an increase in the number of impressions you receive for your ads.  It is hard to predict what this new way of searching will do to the popularity of certain keywords.  I think Amazon and Best Buy should be pretty happy judging from my test run above.  It will be interesting to see the impact of this change as marketers begin to study the impact of this innovative new search feature.

Dec 022009
 

After years of recommending to others that they should start a business blog, I finally found the time and inclination to create one of my own.  I have gone so far as creating a number of test blogs on Blogger.com and GoDaddy’s Quick Blogcast, and developing a soccer team Web site using Geeklog.  I decided to go with WordPress which I think they should rename “ImPress” because of the impressive feature set, theme choices and myriad of developers contributing to this Open Source success story.  I have helped others tweak their WordPress sites in the past but the latest version is incredibly powerful and has gotten a lot easier to use.

Dare I say it, “Static Web sites are going the way of the dinosaur”.  I have seen the writing on the wall and traditional Web design is on its way out.  Starting in 2010 I will be shifting focus completely away from static site development.  Dynamic sites are far more powerful and more interesting for me as a designer.  People will always need help setting things up, creating unique designs and developing solutions that fit a particular business.  People are far less likely to need me to type in the content of their pages and posts.  I can’t say I’ll miss that aspect of Web design since it reminds me of the old typing pools of 60′s and 70′s.  For you youngins, rent an old movie like “9 to 5″ starring Dolly Parton and you’ll get an inkling of what a typing pool is.

Getting back to why I started a blog… it just makes too much sense.  Blogs are cheap; you can host it for free or get a low cost hosting account and garner complete control.  Blogs let you express yourself and demonstrate your knowledge to your peers, clients and hopefully, future clients.  Search engines love blogs due to all the fresh content and keyword rich posts and comments.  Blogs fit together nicely with all your other online activities such as social networking, email, business Web sites, SEO, Paid Search advertising, analytics, etc.  Blogs are easy to use.

Just because it makes a lot of sense doesn’t mean I’ll be the next Matt Drudge.  That’s not my goal.  My goal is to reach out to my Web design clients, social network contacts and others in order to share what I know and in turn learn from the responses I receive.  If it helps business, great.  If not, perhaps I can learn something and improve my writing skills :-)