The New York Times reported details about Google and Bing’s automatic completion tools for their search engines that show “precise questions that are most frequently asked, giving everyone a chance to peer virtually over one another’s shoulders at private curiosities.” Google call its feature “autocomplete” and Bing calls its feature “autosuggest.” The New York Times went on to report:
People who study online behavior also say the autocomplete feature reveals broader patterns, including indications that the questions people ask of search engines often veer into the sensitive and politically incorrect.
Actually automatic completion services exist in part since search engine users want speedy but like the guidance. Google and Microsoft have spent billions of dollars to return faster search based in part on a Google experiment about search engine speed a few years ago which found:
…that people reported more happiness with search even when the results were delivered a few milliseconds faster, at a rate below what the conscious mind can actually perceive.
However if search engine results from Google and Microsoft also reflect popular and frequent inquiries it sure seems that a thoughtful business or crook could game the search engines to drive traffic to their sites.