Web Searches Just Got Faster, Google Claims

Web search speed used to be gauged by how many mouse clicks they took. Google just took the click out of the equation.

Thanks to a set of enhancements to its Internet search engine released on Wednesday (and propagating out to the entire net over the next few days), the new Google search engine will predict your query as you type and deliver results simultaneously -- no more clicking for results.

The company claims its Google Instant technology will shave two to five seconds off every web search.

"Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page," the company explained. By presenting results as you enter your search, "you can scan a results page while you type."

But there may be a downside to the enhanced speed. According to Adam Bunn, head of search at independent search and social marketing agency Greenlight, some websites may suffer a drop in traffic thanks to the changes.

Many sites buy advertising space based on long multi-word keywords, he explained, and as people see results that may be appropriate before they finish typing such keywords, those ad dollars may be wasted -- and traffic may suffer.

"If a website has optimized for and holds good rankings for 'cheap car insurance UK,' that term may lose search traffic as UK users find that the shorter 'cheap car insurance' returns several relevant looking results, negating the need to finish their sentence," Bunn said.

On the other hand, should less common topics should see even fewer page visits, the cost of buying ads that target those pages may drop, he pointed out.

Google is the world's No.1 search engine, but is facing increased competition from Microsoft Corp's Bing search engine.

New technologies, such as the specialized applications that run on Apple's iPhones and fast-growing social-networking services such as Facebook, are also threatening to undermine Google's position as the main gateway to online information, according to analysts.

Google shares are down roughly 26 percent from their 52-week high of $629.51.

Google said the technology will also be available in many more countries in several weeks.

Reuters contributed to this report.