Instant Letters

After I blogged this morning about yesterday’s experience with Google Instant, I read this articleon the Huffington Post.  The author used Google Instant to go through the alphabet and see what the top results were.  It was all based on the question “Why does W get the weather?”  At the end of the article, Craig Kanalley asked “Are your results the same?”

It’s an interesting question and if they are the same everywhere, it lends some credibility perhaps that you can buy your way to the top of results.  But, I can easily think of reasons why they would differ.

  • geography of your IP address;
  • your login – Instant is only available if you’re looked in with your Google account;
  • your browsing / search history.

So, I did try a couple and some were the same but yet, some were different.  Here are the results from my certainly non-scientific time wasting exercise and a bonus at the bottom

The letters are courtesy of Spell with Flickr.


Me – Amazon – AOL was second


HP – Bank of America
Me – Best Buy – Bank of America was second


HP – Craigslist
Me – Craigslist

letter D

HP – Dictionary
Me – Dictionary

letter e

HP – eBay
Me – eBay

letter F

HP – Facebook
Me – Facebook


HP – Gmail
Me – Gmail

letter H

HP – Hotmail
Me – Hotmail


HP – Ikea
Me – Ikea


HP – Jet Blue
Me – Jet Blue

Candy K

HP – Kmart
Me – Kohl’s

letter L

HP – Lowes
Me – Kohl’s

The alphabet - the letter M

HP – Mapquest
Me – Mapquest


HP – Netflix
Me – Netflix


HP – Orbitz
Me – Orbitz

letter P

HP – Pandora
Me – Pandora

Hydro Quebec

HP – BrainyQuotes
Me – BrainyQuotes


HP –
Me – Rei – was second

letter S

HP – Staples
Me – Sears – Staples was fourth


HP – Target
Me – Target


Me – USPS – UPS was second

letter V

HP – Verison
Me – Verison

letter w

HP – Weather
Me – Weather


HP – Xbox
Me – Xbox

letter Y

HP – Yahoo!
Me – Yahoo!

letter Z

HP – Zappos
Me – Zillow – Zappos was second

And, as a bonus, here are my results for the digits from 0-9.

number 0


number 1

14th Amendment





Cabin 4



50 cent

number 6

60 minutes



number 8

84 lumber

number 9


Google Instant

There was a great deal of speculation about what the latest innovation from Google.  When it was revealed, it turned out to be a feature called Google Instant.  It seems to be the next logical step in the evolution of search from the basic search.

After all, we’ve had the “auto complete” feature available for a while.  As you type text into the search box, Google attempts to give you suggestions about what it might be that you’re searching for.  If you see it (or something better), you can quickly select it and complete your search.

Google Instant takes it the next step and shows you the actual content of what it’s suggesting.

While it’s not available to every user yet, it has real potential.  According to the Official Google Blog, here are what they’re calling its “core features”.

  • Dynamic Results – Google dynamically displays relevant search results as you type so you can quickly interact and click through to the web content you need.
  • Predictions – One of the key technologies in Google Instant is that we predict the rest of your query (in light gray text) before you finish typing. See what you need? Stop typing, look down and find what you’re looking for.
  • Scroll to search – Scroll through predictions and see results instantly for each as you arrow down.

I think it’s just downright cool.  While it hasn’t officially rolled out everywhere, you could get a preview yesterday so I took the opportunity to search for “Amherstburg”.


I must admit that I was a little distracted watching the results come in as I typed.  But, I had the same feeling when the auto complete function was activated as well.  Now, it’s just the way that I do business!  I’m sure that, with time, it will become natural.  It’s all in the name of good searching and getting good results.  Power users are going to continue to use the Advanced Search layout anyway.

This searching algorithm seems to be the same.  I did the same search without using Google Instant and typed the same letters and got the same results.  Interesting.  How about in low bandwidth situations?  According to what I read, Google will recognize this and turn the feature off.  Not everything will be correct as you can read in these 25 Google Search Suggestions.

Yet, despite this, the “experts” are out with their negative comments already.  There are polls available to let you vote it down.  Geesh.  If you just don’t get it or like it, there will be a feature in your profile to turn it off.  You’ve got the best of both worlds.  It’s like the outrage when Google turned on their background picture feature.  Don’t like it?  Don’t use it.

I think that it will eventually be accepted and probably emulated by the other search engines.  In the meantime, it’s really interesting to experiment.

links for 2010-09-08