Is Google still feeling lucky? (video)

It’s hard to be as big as Google and still be fun. One bit of the search engine’s late-’90s whimsy that has survived to this day is the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, which instantly takes users to the first search result for a query, with no intervening pages or ads.

Some are now asking if the new Google Instant search, which whisks people straight to a search-results page, meant the button had run out of luck. Ben Gomes, a longtime Googler working on search, told me that “I’m Feeling Lucky” is still alive and well.

“I’m Feeling Lucky” wasn’t just a quirk — it was a statement of braggadocio, that Google’s Web search was so accurate and fast that it didn’t need an intervening results page. And in fact, “I’m Feeling Lucky” has a place in the new Instant results: As users type a query, Google’s search engine tries to predict what they’re searching for — and offers a “Lucky” option for each of its suggestions:

I'm Feeling Lucky

Business Insider suggested Google might start reaping new revenues from ads that users will now see on Instant searches. But that’s not necessarily true, since users may now click on the new “Lucky” links and go directly to the desired sites — Google only charges advertisers when users click on search ads, not when they’re merely displayed.

Here’s Gomes explaining how: