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Google Suggest: Reading Minds Since August 25

As you may or may not have experienced, performing a search on Google.com is a little different nowadays.  You can thank Google Suggest for this, a new feature announced this week.

Google Suggest using Portland Happy Hour

Is Google Suggest something we, as search marketers, can use to the benefit of our clients?   Or is it a gimmick, purely for the lazy user searching the web?

While certainly not revolutionary or something that will definitely change a user’s searching habits, I think this new feature can be used by both search marketers and those searching the internet in a limited fashion to their benefit.

Now, first and foremost, don’t think this new Google Suggest feature is brand-new; Yahoo has had its Search Assist feature for quite some time.

Yahoo Search Assist

Yahoo Search Assist (funny how three out of the five suggestions were how to turn it off!) functions just about the same as Google’s Suggest feature… except it doesn’t have the number of results for each keyword search.

In any case, how can this feature help the search marketer?

  • I suppose it can be a nice launching point when beginning keyword research… though it shouldn’t at all be a replacement of the time-consuming, comprehensive & exhaustive process.
  • Give you an indication of negative keywords to use on a keyword-by-keyword basis

Before we go on, this might be a good place to ask – who would actually use this?  My wife can attest to this – even though when I’m typing in an address in the URL bar, such as facebook.com or otherwise, even though I’ve typed “fac” and the history bar immediately below where I’m typing shows “http://www.facebook.com/”, I don’t ever seem to stop typing and click on the link.  Is this something I just do or do people stop and actually click on the history link?

Anyway, why might a regular internet user using Google or Yahoo to search for something use these features?  Well, I don’t see users typing in “Tropic Thunder” so they can see the Google Suggest options and click on what they were looking for – “Tropic Thunder reviews”.  I see them typing in “Tropic Thunder reviews” or “reviews for tropic thunder”.  However, if you’re looking up information on a vacation destination such as Croatia or otherwise, a user typing in “Croatia” and seeing what Google Suggests might be a valuable way to use the new feature.

So is Google Suggest or Yahoo Search Assist a revolutionary new feature and something that will change how users search from now and into the future?  No.  But it does have its upsides.. however limited they may be.

About Christian Bullock