Google Instant Search – is this a bug?

I got the news through about google instant, and started playing straight away – I’m really liking it, and although people on the team find the search results slightly ‘jarring’ when they change, I love it.

Interestingly, I work for an online bingo retailer (tombola), and we were really quite proud last week to hit 4th when searching for ‘bingo’.  From everything we’ve heard, google instant doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to the search, so “great” thinks I – though I’ll run a few tests just in case.

Appending to a search

  1. Using instant, type ‘bingo’ as your search – you should see tombola come up 4th (as of the time of this writing).
  2. Add a space as if you’re about to change the search – google instant correctly changes the search and different results are generated (we drop off the first page).
  3. Remove the space (you changed your mind didn’t you, you really wanted to see us!) – the original results set are returned back to their usual state.

Well done google!

Prepending to a search

I admit, this use case is going to be used far less than the original above, but ‘bingo’ is one of those words – it can happen at the start or at the end of a search term.

So:

  1. Using instant, type ‘bingo’ as your search – you should see us come up 4th again.
  2. Click to the start of the search, and put a space in – the results change, and we drop off the page, and Gala Bingo comes out as the primary search.
  3. Remove the space…

Hold on, where did we go? The results haven’t changed? But my ‘search intention’ has changed!

Is it a bug?

Well, that remains to be seen.  The above ‘behaviour’ can also be demonstrated by typing ‘development’ and pre-pending versus appending.  Oddly, not all terms behave like this though, so it’s not consistent.

Thoughts?