How Google Instant Will Impact SEO

Few disagree that Google Instant is a major rewrite of the way users search, but there is debate about its impact on SEO and keyword-based advertising. Experts hold forth here.

Google Instant is game-changer in a search market that had grown relatively stale, but it also threatens to disrupt the search engine optimization marketers have carefully cultivated.

Real-time indexing and user interface cosmetics from Google and Bing made search a little more lively, but at the end of the day core search functionality was the same. People came. They entered queries. They clicked enter. They got results, or didn't, as it were.

Google Instant lets users type a query and see results without hitting enter. Each letter triggers a predictive search until a user clicks on a link he or she find useful.

IDC analyst Hadley Reynolds called Google Instant a dramatic break from the traditional Google search experience, which he said was wasteful of users' time. Indeed, Google said the average search took 25 seconds to complete from start to finish. Google Instant could trigger searchers in one-third the amount of time.

"Google Instant should cut down dramatically on the "pogo stick" problem, where users iterated clicking through results links until they got too frustrated to continue," Reynolds said. "Instant will help show what the right links are more quickly."

While Google Instant is exciting because it accelerates the search process for users, it changes the SEO game for advertisers bidding on keywords from Google AdWords.

Whereas a user might have typed in a handful of words for song lyrics, users now need only type a few and Google fills in the blanks, intuiting what the user intended to type and displaying results directly on the search home page without making users click through several pages to get results.

For SEOs, that means less keyword real estate with which to work.

Patrick Kerley, who as a senior digital strategist creates Internet marketing and communications plans at Levick Strategic Communications, said Google Instant's predictive nature boosts the importance of the top few spots in search results.

"As people search and the results start to display, they're going to be paying attention to only what they can see on the screen,"Kerley told eWEEK.

Accordingly, there will be a lot more clicking on the first result that pops up. This will make it a far more competitive landscape, Kerley said.

Kerley said advertising, not organic SEO strategy, is the major point of impact for Google Instant.