Google Suggest, a feature that suggests search terms as a user types letters into the search engine, is being introduced this week on Google.com.
The search tool has been in development for the past four years, and aims to help users input more accurate search queries, save time and effort, as well as reducing spelling errors. As users begin typing a word into the search engine, Google will suggest words and search terms beginning with those letters.
This should reduce the amount of typing a searcher has to do before hitting the search button, assuming that the correct term is suggested. The service will also correct common spelling and typing errors, reducing the amount of irrelevant search results. How this will affect long tail searches which may not appear in the suggest box, or sites looking to profit from misspelled queries remains to be seen.
Google Suggest had previously been available via Google Labs, for users with the Google Toolbar and on Google Maps. It will be rolled out on Google.com. Yahoo launched a similar tool, Search Assist on its search engine at the end of last year.
According to the search engine:
“We find that by providing suggestions upfront, we can help people search more efficiently and conveniently. Instead of just typing ‘hotels in Washington’ did you want ‘hotels in Washington, D.C.’ or ‘hotels in Washington State’? Don’t remember that song title or person’s name? Let Google help you search.”
The suggested search terms will be based on a popularity ranking so the most common terms will be shown highest. It uses general search patterns to determine this, rather than tailor the suggestions to the individual web user.