The “boisterous doodle” on the Google homepage is excited about the week
ahead, and the week ahead starts with a Google search event at the
Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco later today.

What’s on the agenda? Google isn’t saying much. The company has told
invitees that it’s an event “you won’t want to miss” and indicated that
it will be sharing its “latest technological innovation” and an “inside
look at the evolution of search.

On the heels of comments made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt during his IFA keynote in Berlin, speculation is rampant that Google will be unveiling some major changes to the Google search interface. And since Google rarely launches anything new without first testing it in the real world, it’s no surprise that some new Google search features have been spotted in the wild.

Search Engine Roundtable has compiled a list of some changes people are reporting. These include:

  • AJAX search results.
  • More results on each page — 30 to be exact.
  • Streaming results.

Are these the changes that Google is expected to announce today? Perhaps. Giving credence to the prediction that Google’s press event will have something to do with the Google UI is the fact that the speakers at the event “all deal heavily with Google’s user interface.”

Assuming that the predictions are generally on target and Google does roll out some pretty significant changes to its UI, including heavily AJAXified components, the two most pressing questions will be:

  • How will consumers react?
  • How will publishers be impacted?

When it comes to the former, it’s difficult to say. While AJAXified interfaces are more and more common, Google would certainly be taking an interesting risk by altering the fundamental way its users interact with Google search. If consumers find that the enhanced experience increases the value, Google will of course benefit. But if they don’t, Google’s AJAXification will have been little more than ‘innovation‘ for innovation’s sake.

Google, of course, also risks the ire of publishers, as fundamental changes to Google search that alter the SERPs could have an effect on publishers’ Google traffic. While there’s little publishers can do about this, Google certainly doesn’t want to rock the boat too much. It faced a backlash, for instance, when concerns were raised about the inability of analytics software to track referrals from AJAX search results when it first tested those in 2009.

Regardless of what Google announces, many will be hoping that Google’s announcements will also coincide with the death of the interactive Google logos.