Is This What You’re Searching For?

Katherine Bennett - June 4, 2009

Have you ever walked into a department store and had a store associate ask if you needed help. Normally, you’d say, “Yes, I’m looking for”…“or no thank you.” What would happen if you walked into a department store and an associate said, “It looks like you’re heading toward the shoe department, and you’re probably looking for Nike’s since that’s the type of shoe you’re wearing. In fact, weren’t you in here two weeks ago looking for Nike’s? Does this Nike ad interest you?” This is exactly what Google is doing on their home page, Google Suggest, which most people know as  According to a Google blog post, Google said….”we’re introducing more features to Google Suggest to help you make your searches even faster.”  These features include: suggestions on the results page, personalized suggestions, navigational suggestions and sponsored link suggestions.

We’re all familiar with “suggestions on the results page” because that’s been around for a while on other search engines.  This is when the search engine tries to anticipate what you’re looking for based on the words you type in a search box. The Personalized suggestion actually takes into account your Web history and past searches. According to the Google blog post, “we may show some of your relevant past searches as you type. Personalized suggestions will make it easier and faster for you to repeat searches that have worked before.”  Navigational suggestions will actually give the searcher the option to click on a link and go directly to a site’s page. For example if you are searching for “Kennedy Space Center” Google will suggest the link to the Kennedy Space Center home page along with other suggestions.
Now I’ve saved the best for last. Google’s sponsored link suggestions will actually show an ad in the suggestion box. According to the Google blog post, “sometimes we detect that the most relevant completion for what you’re typing is an ad.” This is an awesome feature especially for those who run text ads on Google.  From what I’ve seen so far, only one ad shows up per search query and the ad is always the last suggested result. This could be a great advantage for the company who gets their ad displayed on the Google Suggest page. Google has yet to say how to bid or word your ad so that it’s displayed on the Google Suggest search results. It’s only what they “detect as the most relevant completion” of a search query.

These new changes to the Google Suggest page should prove interesting in the next few months. I’m personally interested to see how the Sponsored Link suggestions will play out for advertisers. The next time you do a search on Google, check to see how many of the above suggestions you receive; you may be surprised at what you find.

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