The autocomplete feature is one of the many ways Google makes life easier for everyone. With prediction capabilities unheard of anywhere else, the feature cuts down typing time by 25 percent.
But Google Search, as we know it, is on a relentless path of improvement. Last week, the search engine giant confirmed to Search Engine Land (SEL) that it has launched the new and improved autocomplete search that includes a second column of predictions.
The additional predictions show People Also Ask (PAA), People Also Search For and other content related to the user query. PAA used to show up as a search result (after the user has pressed Enter) but is now integrated into the drop-down section (before the user has pressed Enter).
Visually, the enhanced autocomplete interface will be wider and longer as it gives users more suggestions to work with.
In an observation by SEL’s Barry Schwartz, this is how we can trigger this feature:
- Conduct a search on Google desktop
- Click back to the search box
- Watch more predictions appear next to the original suggestions
SEO consultant Brodie Clark was one of the first to try out the feature and share his findings on Twitter. Since November, Google has been testing out the update and seems to have made it available for all desktop users as of early to mid-December.
All of that said, we know that Google autocomplete is a time-saving but imperfect feature. Some predictions can direct users to less-than-reliable content (e.g., unconfirmed rumors following a news event). Users must remember that predictions “aren’t assertions of facts or opinions” and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Like the old design, the enhanced autocomplete feature has a “Report inappropriate predictions” at the bottom to combat prediction issues and serve accurate, relevant suggestions to searchers.
At a glance, this update may appear small compared to the major storms SEO specialists and marketers have had to weather over the last few weeks (Google Broad Core Update, anyone?). But Schwartz believes the new inclusions in the autocomplete menu could influence click-through rates from the search results page to your website. He says it may directly affect how people use Search and guide them where and how to look for information.
Which, from an SEO perspective, is pretty significant.
Given that our lives revolve around Google Search, interface updates, big or small, will impact our results in one major way or another. And it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing the latest autocomplete update take effect.
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