What is Google Suggest or Autocomplete

Google Suggest


Google Suggest or Autocomplete is a function of the Google search engine that makes suggestions for completing the search query when users are entering a word. Another function such as Google Instant adjusts the SERP while entering the keyword or phrase.

Origin [edit]

The Google Suggest function was introduced in the USA in 2008 and in Germany in 2009. The advantage should be that the user gets to the desired search result faster without having to make a new search query.

How it works [edit]

While typing letters in the Google search field, the form sends the data to the servers working in the background, which adapt the lists to be output depending on the input, e.g. using a certain prefix ‘. This function is based on Ajax technology, which allows changes to the page content without having to completely reload the page. The searcher thus receives a result for his or her search query almost in "real time", sometimes even before the entire word or phrase has been typed to the end.

Relevant influencing factors on the search with Google Suggest [edit]

The following factors can influence the Google Suggest function:

  • Search frequency: how often is a certain term searched for? The more search queries Google receives, the faster it will be listed in the suggest function
  • Search frequency: how often is something searched in a row? The more frequently a certain word is queried in a row, the more likely it is that this word will be suggested by Google
  • Search behavior: Google can include searches that have already been made in the analysis via the activated web protocol
  • Search location: the SERPs adapt depending on the geographical location of the searcher. It is interesting here that search terms in the SERP with a globally low search volume are also displayed far ahead if the search engine's algorithms assign a higher weighting to the local result.

Example: "Shopping". With the location “Berlin”, the search query “shopping” from Google Suggest is first supplemented with “in Berlin”.

Example "shopping", location "Berlin"

If the search region is changed to "Germany", Google Suggest prefers the following suggestions for the same search query:

Example "Shopping", search region "Germany"

If a user is already logged in with their Google account, this has an additional influence on the search results with Google Suggest.

Google also takes the entire user behavior into account when it comes to search phrases. If, for example, "smartphone comparison" is entered very frequently in the search mask, the chance increases that a query that begins with the keyword "smartphone" will first be supplemented with "comparison".

Example "smartphone"

At the same time, relevance to the current situation also plays a major role. When a smartphone manufacturer such as Apple presents the new iPhone, for example, it stands to reason that Google Suggest adds the number of the current model to the query that begins with "iphone".

Google Suggest exclusions [edit]

In some cases, Google follows very strict guidelines regarding pornography, copyrights or the glorification of violence. For this reason, the Google Suggest function will be temporarily disabled for certain terms.

Problem case autocomplete [edit]

With the introduction of Google Suggest, a number of problems arose that mainly affect personal rights. For example, the wife of the former Federal President, Bettina Wulff, sued Google in 2012. The reason was Google’s autocomplete, which added keywords like “escort” or “prostitute” to search queries for your name. The argument on the part of Google was that the company had no influence on the search queries of its users and that Google Suggest was only based on the existing search queries of its users.

However, the company partially gave in to the lawsuit and removed eight results from its search index. However, the suggest function itself was not fundamentally changed for the plaintiff. However, according to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice in 2013, search engines are obliged to intervene if the autocomplete function restricts people's personal rights.

Autocomplete and SEO [edit]

Even if Google Suggest cannot be directly influenced by search engine optimization, every marketer should be aware that this function can have a decisive influence on the image of a brand or a person. There are many cases in which, for example, a brand very quickly receives negative connotations via Google Suggest after a major scandal. In this case, SEO as part of marketing must aim to present the affected brand, product or company to the public with positive reports.

In the best case, this results in a changed type of search query and the negative additions are successively removed from the suggestions by Google. Of course, a positive reputation can also be strengthened via Google Suggest.

The suggest function can have a positive effect on affiliates who aim for search traffic by entering “Brands” + keyword. These webmasters can, for example, optimize their websites for the combinations "Brand + Recommendation" or "Brand + Test" and hope for increased access.

For SEOs and webmasters, Google Suggest can finally show possibilities for optimization as part of keyword research. Accordingly, websites can be optimized with regard to the most suggested search combinations in order to achieve a higher ranking for these combinations.