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A is for Amazon, B is for Best Buy – Google Suggest Feature

By Mike Banks Valentine (c) Dec. 11, 2004

The Google Suggest Tool Launched Friday in Beta and it’s amazing! How they continue to come up with brilliant, innovative tools that enhance and improve search is beyond me. Having hundreds of genius engineers on staff, listening to their ideas – then implementing those ideas is leading to great leaps in search usability. Try it yourself at: http://labs.google.com/suggest/.

The Google Suggest Beta tool not only completes words in a drop-down list that shows ten possible and or likely ways to complete any word you begin to type in the search box, it shows beside each of those possible word combinations – how many times that option is searched at Google!

Even though I was in the middle of working overtime to begin a major client initiative, I couldn’t stop experimenting with the tool from an SEO perspective. The Google Suggest tool allows you to see instantly how often specific keyword phrases are searched! Chëck out the competition for keywords

Google Suggest is something that appears to be destined for integration into the standard search page simply because it is far more valuable as the similar option some browsers offer to complete words as you begin to type them into web forms. The controversial Gator-form completion tool launched a huge advertising company based only on things users with the Gator tool had already typed into web forms.

But the difference hëre is astounding, in that it shows you things others have typed into the search box and how often! This means that they must instantly access their database via the search box and instantly return results that change with each keystroke! Though interesting, it is not foolproof. Several times I typed quickly and the feature appears to drop behind and miss letters that I’ve typed, showing results for the first two letters, but missing those letters typed after.

The Google Suggest FAQ answers to frequently asked questïons promise that the auto-complete feature is not based on your surfing or search history. An inevitable concern that arises as you type queries and see the javascrïpt function complete words that you wouldn’t otherwise type. A deliberate attempt to search adult terms turns up innocuous word completions and beyond that, appears to filter the most commonly searched phrases on the web. Adult phrases appear (necessarily) not to be completed as it would show things that children using the feature shouldn’t see. Nice touch that!

The FAQ also tells us that the word completion feature of Google Suggest is based upon the Google Zeitgeist, itself a fascinating look at popular culture that is always available to the curious.

One question asked on the Google Suggest FAQ page addresses an odd issue . . . “How do I get back to normal Google?”. The answer is simply to type the http://www.google.com/ URL in the browser address bar or click the Google link, as it appears to lock you into using the feature until you specifically launch a new browser window. Though, personally, I’d rather stick with Google Suggest as it seems that they’ve come up with another tool I can’t live without.

Interestingly, the Google Blog links to the following URL http://labs.google.com/suggest/ but if you look in your browser address bar, you are redirected to http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1&hl=en which suggests Google intends full implementation and may offer on/off toggle option from the main page in the near future.

You must use relatively recent browsers in order to use the Google Suggest feature, but it supports Internet Explorer 6.0 (or newer), Netscape 7.1 (or newer), Mozilla 1.4 (or newer), Firefox 0.8 (or newer), Opera 7.54 (or newer), or Apple Safari 1.2.2 (or newer). (Interesting side note hëre, type the single letter “F” in the text box of Google Suggest text box and the result is “Firefox 20,000,000 results.” Something that will no doubt make Microsoft a bit nervous.)

Google continues to innovate in ways that fascinate me. I’m behind in my work because I’ve toyed around and analyzed this new Google feature beyond reason. If MSN and Yahoo don’t offer similar tools in their search, I can’t imagine being without it and will stick to Google for my searching. MSN’s “Search Builder” feature almost had me as a convert. Yahoo’s “My Search” options almost had me setting Yahoo as my home page. Search tools are coming fast and furious over the past couple of months and this industry is a fascinating space to watch these days.

I’ve gotta get back to work. I’ll resist the temptation to experiment further with the Google Suggest tool. New ideas keep popping into my head on fascinating new ways to use it. Like “What is the most commonly searched word beginning with each letter of the alphabet?” “A is for Amazon” “B is for Best Buy” “C is for CNN” etc. Maybe “How is the prefix ‘un’ most often used?” That didn’t work, I get United Airlines as a suggestion. Google, I have a suggestion for a new tool! How about Google Prefix or even Google Antonym! Imagine the fascinating tools that developers will build using the Google API if they include this new Suggest feature in the API!

About The Author
Mike Banks Valentine practices ethical SEO. Contact Mike at: SEOptimism.com. This article is available online at RealitySEO.com with links to resources. You may use it on your site, blog or newsletter if you maintain this resource box and make links live hyperlinks.

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