It’s a well known feature of Google. Once you start typing in a search, and Google offers suggestions before you’ve even finished typing. But how does Google come up with those suggestions? When does Google remove some suggestions? When does Google decide not to interfere? Come along for some answers.
“As you type, Google’s algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities. In addition, if you’re signed in to your Google Account and have Web History enabled, you may see search queries from relevant searches that you’ve done in the past. All of the predicted queries that are shown in the drop-down list have been typed previously by Google users.
For certain queries, Google will show separate predictions for just the last few words. Below the word that you’re typing in the search box, you’ll see a smaller drop-down list containing predictions based only on the last words of your query. While each prediction shown in the drop-down list has been typed before by Google users, the combination of your primary text along with the completion may be unique.
Predicted queries are algorithmically determined based on a number of purely objective factors (including popularity of search terms) without human intervention. The autocomplete data is updated frequently to offer fresh and rising search queries.”
The suggestions that Google provide are influenced by three factors:
Query volume (lots of other people Googled this query)
Searcher’s location (this query is relevant to your current location – e.g. you started typing ‘takeaway pizza’, Google noticed that you’re located in Brighton, so it suggested ‘takeaway pizza Brighton’)
Keyword/phrase mentions (this query – or part of it – is getting a lot of mentions across the web right now)
The suggestions that Google provides are all terms that other people have searched for. For example, if you type in the word ‘offers’, Google will suggest the following based on the kind of ‘offers’ that other people commonly search for:
How can I use Google Instant to get more traffic?
Google Instant doesn’t just benefit consumers – it can also be a somewhat useful tool for SEO professionals. This feature is very handy for keyword research purposes as it can give you good idea what people are commonly searching for. Just type in your keyword and see what Google suggests – these suggestions are likely to be commonly-Googled queries that are worth targeting on your website!
For instance, if you own a furniture store that sells dining tables, you could start typing ‘dining tables’ into Google for a couple of quick keyword ideas:
This tells you that quite a few people search for ‘dining table with bench’ and ‘dining table and 4 chairs’. Now that you know this, you can target these long-tail keyword phrases on appropriate pages within your site; for example, if you sell a dining table that comes with benches, you could tailor this product page’s copy to rank for the corresponding search term. Alternatively, if you sell several table/bench combo products, you could write a blog post that features all of them and targets the search term ‘dining table with bench’. Ranking for a keyword like this should give your organic traffic levels a great little boost!
Suggestions Based On Real Searches
The suggestions that Google offers all come from how people actually search. For example, type in the word “coupons,” and Google suggests:
These are all real searches that have been done by other people. Popularity is a factor in what Google shows. If lots of people who start typing in “coupons” then go on to type “coupons for walmart,” that can help make “coupons for walmart” appear as a suggestion.
Google says other factors are also used to determine what to show beyond popularity. However, anything that’s suggested comes from real search activity by Google users, the company says.