But I have my suspicions. I’ve been testing the new feature and talking to people in the search engine optimization business—folks who spend their whole day advising Web publishers and e-retailers on how people react to search result rankings, and how to elicit free traffic from Google and other search engines. They have some interesting thoughts about the probable repercussions from this latest change in the way Google presents search results.
So it’s too early to get all worked up about Google Instant. But it is fun to speculate about the forces at work here, and which way they might be pushing. In this business, the stakes are so large—to wit, Google’s 70-plus-percent share of the search market, and its $23 billion in advertising revenue in 2009—that nothing happens by accident, and even seemingly small changes in the way the search engine works can have outsize effects.