Google Instant: What It Means To Website Owners


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Yesterday Google unveiled what is considered by many the biggest game changer the search industry has seen in years. It’s called Google Instant, and it basically shows search results in real time, as you type letter by letter. Here is a quote from the official Google Instant page:

Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.

The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want. In time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way.

Google is gradually rolling the change around the world, and most people should already be able to experience this feature on the (English version) page.

The question that has been on my mind is how will this new feature impact website owners. Many other people are discussing this too, so I decided to make a roundup of the views and opinions I saw around the web, with my own take about them.

1. Google Instant will kill SEO (I don’t agree.)

Some people started linkbaiting suggesting that Google Instant will kill SEO or make it irrelevant. I disagree with this view. It sure will change how SEO is done, but if anything this will open new opportunities for the skillful and clever SEOs out there.

Companies will also keep needing help with their SEO and PPC management, so I don’t think much will change in this segment either.

2. There will be less traffic to long tail keywords (I partially agree)

Now that search results are displayed in real time, the keyword suggestions people will see on their search boxes will be much more effective. This means that people will be less inclined to type long and detailed keywords (i.e., long tail ones), so the traffic you’ll get from these keywords will be reduced. I agree with that.

But there is another side to this coin. Google tests revealed that real time results encourage people to make more searches, so this could off-set the previous effect, increasing the amount of traffic you’ll get even for long tail keywords.

3. Popular keywords will become even more popular (My own theory)

Another effect of the keyword suggestions is that popular keywords should become even more popular (as long as they are one of the Google suggestions). Someone who was about to search for “make money online with a website”, for example, will see a suggestion for “make money online” right after typing some letters, and there are good chances he’ll just click there to save time.

4. Title tags will become a lot more important (My own theory)

As you probably know Google uses the title tag of a page as its headline in the search results page. For this reason title tags were already important, but with Google Instant they become even more.

Why? Because your pages will appear in many more searches now, and if you have a catchy title tag you might convince the user to click on your link even if he was searching for something else.

Over to the readers: What do you guys think about Google Instant, and how do you think it will affect website owners?

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45 Responses to “Google Instant: What It Means To Website Owners”

  • Shaun @ UML

    I haven’t seen a huge difference in traffic yet but am curious to see what happens to my longtails. The thing is Google aren’t bothered if internet marketers will get less longtail traffic, their priority is the searcher. And if the searcher get a better service out of this, dont expect Google to to help the IMs out on top of that…

  • Paul Novak

    1. Google Instant will kill SEO (I don’t agree.)

    It will and already is shifting the emphasis in results towards commerical returns. Look what pops up when you type in single letters. Small outfits and personal SEO efforts are going to be steamrolled.

    2. There will be less traffic to long tail keywords (I partially agree)

    There will be less traffic overall, but a higher precentage will go to commercial results. See above. Which is what Google wants as that is where their corporate interests lie. Good for Google stock, bad for the user. Long tail keywords grew out of one thing, users trying to find EXACTLY what they wanted. This is not a help to users, it is a hinderence.

    3. Popular keywords will become even more popular (My own theory)

    Search terms will become even more saturated. Watch what happens when you start researching keywords in a week or two. Though competition was heavy before? Now you will have even less options for getting around too expensive popular terms, and the good terms will be even more expensive.

    4. Title tags will become a lot more important (My own theory)

    Highly doubt it. With search being so fundementally shifted towards commercial results that dominate obvious terms, smaller sites are going to need a heck of a lot more than a catchy title tag to stay up in the rankings. Where once we are able to workaround saturated terms by using long tails- phrases, now we are going to see most of that benefit go **POOF**. Google doesnt care about tags anymore really anyways. That’s just the obvious way to return relevant info on a site.

  • David

    I really like the new results.

    It also seems to me that instant results will make it even more important to be on the first page of results which are the ones shown as you type. If you are on the second or later page you don’t get any traffic until the search as been completed and they have pressed enter.

  • Farouk

    quite interesting
    when are they launching it?

    • Daniel Scocco

      It is being rolled out world wide already. If you are not seeing it you should soon.

  • SEO Lincolnshire


    I agree regarding SEO – I think it simply means you have to now “think” like the Google Instant Search when you are considering your SEO (as if we didn’t have enough to consider)!

    I also think PPC will now need to include some one word search formats (not ideal) with a very very clear advert showing as people begin to type – e.g. Office Chairs will now potentially need to be triggered by office (which ordinarily I wouldn’t have done previously) – but if someone begins typing “office” and gets to see AdWords already for office chair – they may simply click on the AdWord from there.

    It is certainly going to mix things up a bit!!

  • Brian Haferkamp

    I’ve been checking out the Instant stuff for the past couple of days and had to turn it off. It’s worthless to me because I can type more than 10 wpm. I’m also not a novice searcher so I’m not typing in the first two letters and then seeing what results come up. I also don’t scan as fast as I type. That’s got to be a wrong assessment by Google. The people who can scan that quickly can probably type too fast to make this product worth anything.

    This looks like a worthless technology to me. Hopefully, Google will stick with their principles of not saving lame ducks and shelve it quickly.

    It doesn’t seem to bring out anything different in SEO. It will take a while for people to change their mentality of type-click. I don’t expect long-tail searches to be greatly affected because of this.

  • Mandeep

    I noticed today that google was giving search results as you typed. I was also wondering how this would change seo. I think I agree with what you have to say about longer keywords. However, I still believe that the older seo techniques will be very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Eric

    I think it is a clever way to box small business out of PPC and jack up bids. It will be worthless to bid on long tail keywords, so now everyone will be bidding on the bigger keywords, thus jacking up the bids, and boxing out small businesses.

  • Christina ( @CashCampfire )

    Personally, I LOVE Google Instant. It’s just incredibly easy to search now and it’s amazing to see those search results pop up while you’re typing without any lag at all!

    However, I never thought about how it would affect SEO or websites in general. These are all interesting views. I’m afraid that it will reduce traffic for long tail keywords though.

  • Vince

    My theory is this: SEOing will not be affected by this change. However, this will have an effect on the psychological response of searching of the web user.

    Instead of typing long tail keywords, they will have a chance of simply clicking the “suggested keywords”.

    Real time suggest keywords just like as you search in Youtube.

    Long-tail keywords won’t be affected that much as long as the web user is really searching for a specific information.

    Main advantage, as a website owner, try to observe what keywords will come out as you type in particular searches and use it to your SEO.

    This is not a threat… but it will keep us also to be updated in the way we SEO our websites and blogs.

  • jason

    It all depends on the users. I think that many google users will still use google the way that it was used in the past, and the more advanced willl catch on to instant. So it depends on the blog niche, but SEO will still be available in many forms.

    • Tom | Oral Answers

      I think many users will use it as they have in the past. I do disagree though. I think the advanced users will continue using it as they have in the past (via a direct search in Safari, Chrome, or Firefox so this won’t affect them).

      I also think that the advanced users type pretty fast, so it’s safe to assume that this won’t affect them too much.

      I think the novice users that type slowly will be the ones that take advantage of Google Instant the most IMHO.

  • Keith Davis

    Thanks Daniel
    There has been some coverage of Google instant on the UK news and some hints that SEO would no longer apply.

    Sounds as though you have thought about it in practical terms and mage a few great suggestions.
    Much appreciated

  • John Paul Aguiar

    I agree with most of this.. mainly with long tales getting screwed. Kinda sucks to work hard to rank for long tails with Google, then have Google do something thats screw you.

    Do you think this will make people work harder to SEO for Bing?

    • Daniel Scocco

      I don’t think so, as long as Google keeps its huge market share.

  • Alan @ Work From Home

    Hey Daniel,

    Results were a little sluggish to show as I typed. Not sure if I anyone else experienced this, but it was rather annoying. I agree with your theory’s on all points. It will be interesting to see how this could affect our overall site traffic and if we will have to adjust our SEO at all.

  • Vandana

    Thanks for the post. I am learning about Google.

  • Brent Stangel

    I think that the fact remains: if your page best represents the answer to the search query you will still get traffic. I never pay any attention to search suggestions except on Youtube. It’s hard enough finding good information without Google trying to read your mind. It’s like some one deciding they know what you’re talking about with out giving you a chance to finish your statement.

  • Cebu Tech Blogger

    I agree with you. It won’t kill SEO, not unless SEO adapt to the new changes. This enhancement to Google’s search algorithm is great. I’m just wondering how long Google spent in integrating Instant to its search algorithm… I found another site which works the same way, but it’s for Bing. It uses AJAX technique utilizing Bing’s API, and I believe the developer finished it in a shorter period of time…

  • Tom | Oral Answers

    I haven’t noted different traffic today.

    One interesting thing about Google Instant is that when you type in my website name “Oral Answers”, the results that pop up underneath are for “French Oral Answers” whatever those are…

    Unless a user presses the enter key, they wouldn’t see my site in the results.

    Not that my site is really popular or anything, but I think this could potentially confuse some users if they think that the results below the search box are for what they typed in.

    I think that Google should change this and then simply suggest the more common phrase (in my case “French Oral Answers”) as a search term when someone searches…

    Does anyone think this could affect results?

    • Daniel Scocco

      I just checked, and yeah that is a weird pattern.

      I believe it will be fixed once you get more backlinks and make your webste more popular, cause then Google will know “oral answers” is not a misspelling.

      • Tom | Oral Answers

        Thanks, Daniel. I figured that was the reason… And believe me, not too many people type “Oral Answers” into the Google search box.

  • Alex Dumitru

    I really like the new Google Instant and until now I didn’t notice any change to my traffic, though it’s too soon to say for sure. What about you. Did anyone notice any increase or decrease in traffic ?

    • Daniel Scocco

      Well they started rolling it yesterday, so I think it’s too early to say anything with statistically significant data.

  • Jaan Kanellis

    Daniel pretty all of the listing will become important:

    -meta description
    -rich snippets
    -bread crumb snippets

    As well as universal search optimization

    • Daniel Scocco

      I agree.

  • Basant

    I agree with your theory that “Title tags will become a lot more important”. The user will be intended to click on a catchy title even if S/he is not searching for it.

  • Marita

    From a user’s perspective I find Google Instant totally annoying, because with every letter you type the page changes and you’re distracted from your original ‘search plan’.

    Because of this distraction factor I believe that short main keyword phrases will become even more competitive.

    Google has to be commended to always work on trying to improve search results, but they also have to make money. Having more competition with main keywords will probably drive prices up in adsense.

  • tushar

    with the SEO point, i also do not agree that Google Instant will kill SEO…Google is a global giant and i am very sure that they have make provisions for the basics like SEO and good content and link building in their new search engine…

  • Sujith-Techlineinfo

    This is a bandwidth eating technology.

    • Daniel Scocco

      Good point 🙂


    Great points.Title tag is really important and can make rank to the top page even many other techniques of SEO are wrong for less competitive words.
    Your theory is good

    Thanks For Sharing

  • Aja Trinidad

    I had my first experience with it this morning, and I didn’t like it at all.

    I typed something, Google displayed the results, and I thought, “I wasn’t finished typing yet!!”

    It annoyed me pretty much, so I turned it off. I hate this obsession with fast, “instant” results. How many milliseconds am I actually saving by no longer having to hit Enter after I type a phrase? Are those milliseconds holding me back from doing much more important things?

    I hope this doesn’t become the default. I would stop using Google.

  • Jen

    Interesting. My first thought was… I don’t even search Google initially via the direct website… so the “instant” suggestions aren’t relevant until after I receive my first set of results. I’m curious how this will effect the overall impact, and how many others search similarly to my technique (using the search bar in Firefox, etc.).

    Plaing around with a few keywords I am familiar with results, I like the outcome of new results and the connections that are being made.
    Great info, thank you for sharing your insight.

    • David

      presumably though they could change the search box in firefox etc to work in the same way as the box on the google site so that as soon as you start typing it takes you to the results page (with the instant results)

  • Personal Development@planetnaveen

    Hi Daniel.
    I feel this move from Google is good for users since they get real time search results. For Google, its again pushing limits in data warehousing side. I am now thinking how Google stores the search data whether its a table based system or a file based system.

    Regarding the other part, I am not even able to see the Google instant in my area since it seems it is not yet rolled out here 🙁

  • Jon Clayton

    I agree with you, Google Instant will increase the need for effective SEO, not diminish the need. Matt Cutts recently spoke to this and stated the in 5 years SEO will still be relevant and important. Thanks!

  • Josh Garcia

    Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for sharing the news about Google. I do think is going to change up SEO a bit. However, we still need to be aware of SEO and still play the SEO game.

    Looking forward to see the outcome of this change.

    Chat with you later…

    • Kamal Hasa

      I believe Google Instant will not Kill SEO or even affect it by a far margin than what we understand it to be like!

      The only thing that is going to take the hit is of course the long tailed keywords.

      I always hated the Google suggestions thing because it tells what the users need to be search for and not what they really have in their mind while typing the keywords in the search box.

      I personally think Google Instant is too intrusive.

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