Predictive search is a type of autocomplete that is used within a search bar. Most internet users are familiar with, and even expect search suggestions that populate as soon as they start typing. Predictive search helps users to better understand popular searches and is useful in saving users time, as they can select their desired option as soon as it pops up, rather than having to completely type it out. This optimizes the search experience, especially for those on mobile devices. Originally designed for users with disabilities that affect their typing abilities, predictive search has since expanded to improve users’ search experiences.
Google introduced the auto complete system as part of Google Suggest in 2008. As part of its suggestions, Google Suggest considered how often a search term has previously been used, the location where the search is originating, and the previous search behavior of the user, especially if the user is logged in to their Google account. This allows for customized search results for each user. Similar predictive search features have since been utilized by various platforms, from other search engines to retail sites and even social media.
Predictive search can help businesses in a variety of ways, including: