First Impressions: Gmail in Google Search Results

By Stephen Da Cambra in (Business,Sales & Marketing)

Earlier this week Google began live-testing a new search feature that gives Gmail users the option to include their personal email messages in Google search results.

When activated, the new feature searches your Gmail account for emails and content related to the terms used in a regular Google search. The top Gmail results are presented in a box in the top right corner of the search results page. Check the image below.

It’s a strange feeling to see your personal email show up alongside results from across the web, but Google devotes as much of the confirmation message it sends to trial participants to assurances of privacy as to anything else.

After using it for a day, here are some first impressions:

  • It works well – It’s fast, easy and simple to use
  • It saves time – If you use the current Gmail search feature to find similar information to what you’ve searched the web for – and I do that a lot – now you can do both simultaneously
  • It needs refinement – These might be a little too much to expect from a product that’s just being tested, but areas for improvement are quickly apparent, especially in filtering results. Some of the filters that would be useful:
    • Subject line only – a search for “Las Vegas” returned lots of Dan Zarella messages because his mailing address, which appears at the very bottom of his messages, includes “Las Vegas”.
    • Opened or unopened messages – Sometimes you just move a message to a folder for review later.
    • Contact-specific search – This might be really stretching the wishlist, but I know that certain contacts have sent the information I’m searching for.

The biggest impression the new functionality made is its potential impact on search engine and email marketing. Suddenly, any branded email in a prospect’s inbox could be the search result that converts him or her into a paying customer.

While thinking of those possibilities, there’s other more practical implications for your marketing. The physical placement of the Gmail search results pushes the right hand column of PPC ads down and takes your attention away from them. What differnce that makes, if any, will have to await some testing, but it’s something that caught my eye immediately.

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