A Look at the Impact of Google Instant

While we agree that the arrival of Google Instant does bear consequences for the search marketing industry, we don’t share the view that it is a complete disaster. The change is simply the latest step in the continuously evolving (and highly competitive) web search market. Google has always been an innovator in this space and, say what you will about some of their recent business moves, their search has always moved forward, towards more complete, more accurate results. Google Instant is simply the next step in that cycle of innovation.

Moreover, Google Instant, by itself, is not the defining event in this most recent series of enhancements. Rather, we believe, it is the combination of Google Instant with the revisions in the predictive query feature that will have the biggest impacts. While Google may have made it faster and easier for people to search, they have certainly raised the bar for smaller firms, or for those who simply have not put the effort in building their sites into something Google considers to be highly relevant.

Several things seem likely to result from these changes:

(1) The low rent business of gaining page views through typo squatting seems to be doomed. Fewer and fewer users will wind up on these deceptive domains due, primarily, to the predictive query feature.

(2) Big brands are favored by Google Instant. On this point, however, let’s not mix up cause and effect: The big brands pop up first because they grab more search volume to begin with and the predictive query mechanism is based on the popularity of the search terms. It’s a logical result.

(3) The predictive query mechanism is going to be very influential. It will steer people along more common lines of research. The bell curve for queries relating to common topics will get taller and a little fatter. People may, in other words, be willing to settle for more generic search phrases.

(4) Though the bell curve will get taller, the long tail will also get longer (and possibly fatter). We think it reasonable to assume that, with a useful predictive search functionality, more people will be able to refine their searches more narrowly. This will drive more traffic into more specific searches, giving people who are properly optimized — and have relevant quality sites — a better chance at showing up on the first page.

(5) Search marketing will have to become more dynamic. Search marketing professionals who wish to be aggressive for their clients will need to be both more sensitive to trending query patterns and more agile in chasing those queries.

(6) Your Google PPC stats may be impacted. Google Instant means that ads may cycle more frequently, generating more impressions. As the users types letters, AdWords display, and they also change as new letters are added to the query. Google is aware of this and has been discussing the issue on their various media outlet sites, so, while they are trying to take efforts to marginalize the impact, it is indeed likely you will see increased impressions.

(7) The long tail will be less attractive for PPC advertisers. Why? Those willing to accept AdWords for their results are going to click out as soon as they see a relevant ad, therefore the value of delaying display until very specific queries are entered decreases.

(8) Good Page Titles are going to become more important. Page Titles are already a key element. Having page titles containing your target keyphrases will be more likely to grab attention and generate clicks.

So, what does it all mean? At this stage it is too early to say with certainty; everyone continues to watch and test. But, as the old saying goes, the only thing that stays the same is change. Google will continue to refine tool and those of us who work in this field will have to continue to watch, learn and test different approaches in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage.