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Google Instant Search - What You Need to Know

Unless you have been away from the computer, TV, or radio for the past few days, you have probably heard of Google's latest feature, Google Instant Search. Basically the search engine starts showing results as you start typing your query. There have been a lot of mixed reviews and suggestions. One of my personal favorites was from @GregBoser

“Instant would be far more significant if it didn't kick at the first letter. Showing me Amazon for A is statistically stupid assumption.”

I mean seriously, how many people have won on Wheel of Fortune by guessing the phrase as soon as Vanna turns the first letter?

Overall it is a pretty impressive feature, that overall seems to work quite well. It will be moving to mobile devices later this fall.

How will this affect your organic rankings?

There were several comments about Instant Search being the “death of SEO”. This could not be further from the  truth. In fact, it may increase the need for SEO as it is more important to rank above the fold. Matt Cutts sums up where he sees SEO over the next several years on his blog, which you can find here: http://goo.gl/hL2q.

It will take some ti

me to find out really what SEO changes will need to be made to take advantage of Instant Search, but one key factor may be keyword order will be vital. Websites using the keyword in the order of a searcher using Google Instant Search, their website may show before a site using the same keywords in a different order (given they are similarly optimized). Take particular consideration into how your target audience orders their searches and in local search whether users are using the location or subject first.

In the recent past, search professionals have been advocates for the long tailed keywords, as they are the ones that will drive conversions. I expect some drop in long tail traffic, but still expect that long tail terms will convert at a higher rate. It is not necessary at this point to eliminate focus on your long tail terms.

In the very near 

future, I don’t expect much change in SEO strategy until user behavior changes because of Instant Search. Despite showing results faster, Google still needs to show relevant results or they will begin to lose market share. We have always known that Google focuses on giving their users fast results, the new technology will save 350 MILLION HOURS of user time each year!


My initial thought was we would see a spike in impressions because the results were always changing. It was confirmed that an impression would only occur if an ad showed for 3 or more seconds, or if there was an actual clicked se

arch and the ad appeared. I have seen a slight impression increase across my accounts and some fluctuation in clicks, but given the short time span, no significant conclusions can be made.

There h

as been speculation that Google has pushed instant search to reduce long tail traffic with paid search. The long tail terms generate less Ad Words revenue, whereas the new technology could increase broader clicks. I take that information with a grain of salt, but in the end Google is still a business; a business that needs to make money.

We will keep an eye on trends and industry news to see what changes may be taking place, but in the short term this is more of a big change for users and Google than it is for your SEO efforts.

Do you know what keywords you should be ranking for or interested in knowing your rank across several search engines? Find out at http://www.protocol80.com/howdowerank/