The Google Instant Alphabet

In a Boing Boing comment thread around the launch of Google's new "Google Instant" search feature, BB reader Robert compiled a little alphabet ditty based on what typing in each letter of the alphabet yields in the way of suggestions. The results vary by country, and it seems also by state or region, and other more personal factors: say, cookies stored for your prior Google searches. Robert is in the USA. Enjoy.

A is for Amazon, to get all your books.
B is for Bank of America, which holds all your crooks.
C is for Craigslist, no services adult.
D is for Dictionary, to define your result.
E is for eBay, to spend all your cash.
F is for Facebook, web pages like trash.
G is for Gmail, world domination ambition.
H is for Hotmail, Gmail's competition.
I is for Ikea, for a lamp named Bljampäjese.
J is for Johns Hopkins, where they cure your disease.
K is for Kohl's, a store that's old-school.
L is for Lowe's, to buy your tool.
M is for MapQuest, for the place you go to.
N is for Netflix, to add to your queue.
O is for Orioles, a Baltimore obsession.
P is for Pandora, an audio digression.
Q is for QVC, for goods without esteem.
R is for Ravens, another Baltimore team.
S is for Sears, appliances and more.
T is for Target, a Wal-Mart like store.
U is for USPS, where mail you submit.
V is for Verizon, Steve Jobs should use it.
W is for Weather, for forests in flames.
X is for Xbox, a console for games.
Y is for Yahoo, a home page for Chrome.
Z is for Zillow, to value your home.

(Image: a page from the children's French-language alphabet book "Grand Alphabet Amusant," by E. Morel, ~1890; from Bibliodyssey)


  1. Google UK gives you
    Argos, BBC, Currys, Debenhams, ebay, Facebook, Google maps, Hotmail, Ikea, john Lewis, KLM, Lotto, MSN, Next, O2, PayPal, Quidco, Rightmove, Sky, Tesco, Utube, Vodafone, Weather, Xe, YoutTube, Zara

  2. I get totally different results. A is for All, About, About Us, Add, Add to, Added to, Advertise, At, and Advance. (Am is for America, American, and American Samoa before Amazon.)

    1. That’s weird … your google must be broken.

      For me (on a neutral .com search) the results are:

      A = Amazon, AOL, ATT, Apple, A

      What worries me most about that is that it’s pure consumerism. I love to consume, but this is based on the habits of everyone with data access and how they interact with limitless data.

      With all the knowledge and media available all we want to do is spend money on stuff?

      The other side to the coin of course is that Google is just trying to make us click on sponsored links and make themselves some money.

      Which is dirty, but admittedly very few people search for ‘A’.

      Instant search will completely change the game for SEO folk though; where search terms are now not complete, and partial search-terms become a lot more exposed.

      Not enough fuss is being made about this; as we’re just seeing it as a usability feature or a gimmick; but this will literally change how we are exposed to content on the net – and it looks consumer focussed to me.

      I guarantee that in 12 months internet usage stats will have completely changed.

  3. Kinda depends…if you turn off search history, you’ll get whatever the general public has been typing into searches. Otherwise you get results mixed in from your own searches.

  4. I think this is different even in various places in America. For example, I thought it was odd that “R” was the Baltimore Ravens (not a particularly famous team outside the DC area where I used to live). I see that in San Diego, it seems to be REI — a backpacking/camping supply store.

  5. The results don’t just vary by region, they vary by the person doing the search. If you’ve used Google before and have cookies set, Google will use what you searched for before to customize the search. This will reveal that Google knows a lot more about you than you might think.

    So if you sometimes search Google for pr0n, careful about using Google Instant in front of your SO.

  6. 9 our of 10 of them are companies or products… is Google making more money here?

    Why stop at autocomplete? Spell checkers could be a source of ad revenue too!

    Google>”Did you mean to type “Crayola?””

  7. Google CA gives: Air Canada, BMO, Canadian Tire, Dictionary, Ebay, Facebook, Gmail, Hotmail,
    Ikea, Job Bank, Kijiji, Lotto Max, Mapquest, NHL, OSAP, Paypal, Quotes, Rogers, Skype, TSN, Utube, Via Rail, Walmart, Xbox, Youtube, and Zellers.

  8. I can’t help but read the list to the tune of ICP’s “Miracles.”

    I spend too much time on the internets.

  9. @Ugly Canuck. I had the exact same list, so seems less likely it was tailored to my previous searches, but by region.

    1. Yes…I actually had to check to see if my cookies were on, as a poster above pointed out that having them off may “genericize” your list, and as mine are on , I think that you may well be correct. At least, I do not see any indication that the list reflects what I’ve searched for lately.

      Perhaps Google’s search services in the United States are more tailored to the regions or individual States, as there are simply so many more Americans than Canadians.

      I note that we share 8 of the 26 words with the American lists here, which strangely enough IMHO is about right culturally as well: in general terms, Canadians and Americans have identical views and attitudes on about 1/3 of all topics. We share 7 (8 if you count the ‘Lotto’ in both) out of 26 with the Brits…and that seems culturally about right, too.

      But I also note that we what we share with the Americans differs slightly from what we share with the Brits…which seems, culturally, also right.

      Brits share five with the US.

      Any Aussies out there? What’s on your list?
      I wonder if this could be used as a kind of proxy to measure rough cultural differences and similarities between English-speaking countries in general.

  10. I got pretty much the same “Canadian” list, only looking at the kijii website resulted in getting several items such as kijii united states for the letter u, for example. This suggests the immediate context of your recent search history may have a strong effect.

  11. The word digression is perfect for Pandora. Trying to find a song you want to hear is like catching greased pigs.

  12. Greatly warped minds think alike? I had just worked up the Google alphabet for Honolulu to send to a mailing list I’m on:

    A is for amazon
    B is for best buy
    C is for craigslist
    D is for dictionary
    E is for ebay
    F is for facebook
    G is for gmail
    H is for hotmail
    I is for iphone
    J is for justin bieber
    K is for kitv
    L is for lowes
    M is for myspace
    N is for netflix
    O is for orbitz
    P is for pandora
    Q is for quotes
    R is for ross
    S is for star advertiser
    T is for target
    U is for usps
    V is for verizon
    W is for weather
    X is for xbox
    Y is for youtube
    Z is for zippys

    I wish I’d thought of the poetry though.

    For those who don’t live here, KITV is a local TV station, of course, Ross is a discount clothes store, and Zippy’s is a local fast food chain, not the pinhead.

  13.’s version (Omissions are the same as above)
    Google Maps
    John Lewis
    50 cent
    6 Music

    As [caribou] implied – I wonder if companies pay for those placings?

  14. I too found my results to be heavily weighted towards local subjects. (I’m guessing the originator is from Boston, of course) I knew Google tends to give local results, but I didn’t realize it would do so on subjects so broad as a single letter.

    This also reminds me of Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which I love.

  15. From New Zealand:
    ASB, Bebo, Christchurch earthquake, dictionary, ebay, facebook, geonet, hotmail, IRD, Jetstar, Kiwibank, Lotto, miniclip, NZ Herald, Orcon, Pizza Hut, Qantas, runescape, Stuff, Trademe, utube, Vodafone, White Pages, Xtra, Youtube, ZM

    Lots of NZ companies in there. Two references to the 7.1 Christchurch Earthquake on Saturday – one under C, and Geonet is the natural hazards reporting website – something I’ve been looking at a lot as the earth keeps shaking underneath me. Not fun!!

  16. Must be region specific, the example in the post is obviously from someone in the hun-belt: (at least) three Baltimore associated suggestions (Orioles, Ravens and Johns Hopkins).

  17. Logging onto (Aussie Google):

    Ato,Bom, Centrelink, domain, eBay, facebook, gmail, Hotmail, Ikea, Jetstar, Kangaroo (actually it’s Kmart), Limewire, maps, NAB, Optus, PayPal Qantas, RTA, Seek, Telstra, utube, Virgin Blue, White pages, Xe, YouTube, Zumba

  18. Here in Trinidad I get fairly standard stuff except for
    i – isohunt
    p – pirate bay
    s – skype
    v – Victoria’s secret
    z – zedge

  19. Hooray, people are paying attention to Robert!

    I suspect it’s a lot more specific than just country, since the two Baltimore results indicate Google knows I’m near Baltimore.

    1. Robert, this is genius. At the risk of sounding nerdy or obscure (with any luck, both), my brain read this in Weird Al’s voice set to music by Wendy Carlos.

  20. Brilliant!

    But Robbie is wrong about QVC. Often confused with the fly-by-night home shopping networks of the early 80’s, they actually run a legit business with good products and stellar customer service policies. Oh yeah, and the prices are generally lower or comparable to what you find elsewhere.

    I swear I’m not a shill, just a fan. :)

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