It has been reported that Google is experimenting with ads, links and answers presented in the Google Suggests list, directly as you type. Not everyone will take part in these experiments, so let me show you what it may look like.
Normally, when you start typing into the search box at google.com (international site), you get something like this:
Popular searches are listed together with approximate hit counts, making it easier to execute longer, well-formed queries.
Recently, Google have started showing page links directly in the list of suggestions, like this:
Nytimes.com, which is the first hit when searching for New York Times, is shown at the top of the list. This makes for an efficient and very convenient shortcut, resembling a more sophisticated live search feature.
Google takes the experiment even further by presenting ads in the suggestions list as well. It may look something like this, with the ad placed on top:
Apparently, Google is also trying out a version where the ad is placed at the bottom of the list.
Google is in a sense combining Query Suggestions and Best Bets into one experience, when page links appear in the suggestions list. The conversation between user and search engine becomes faster and more dynamic. Query Suggestions help users formulate longer, well-phrased questions, while Best Bets increase the likelihood of search engines providing the correct results. Used together, these two techniques could bring search engines closer to the Turing test and human-like intelligence.
While the new search suggestions seem great for navigational queries (seeking one right answer), it does also create a whole new Shadow of Death for smaller websites. Imagine what happens to general visibility when Google short-cuts the search results page like this, taking searchers directly from the suggestions list to the most popular matching website.
If you’re really unlucky, you may find your search engine traffic plummeting, should Google decide to roll this feature out to the general public. Let us watch out together.