Google Instant, How Badly Can it Affect SEO, If at All?

Google has just rolled out its new search enhancement that displays results as soon as users type in queries. Described by the company as “search at the speed of thought”, the service is 

called Google Instant, and it’s actually able to predict a user’s query and modify the displayed results as more letters are being typed into the search box.

Previously, Google provided a search term suggestion service, but it could not show results until the Enter key or the search button were pushed. Google Instant is being launched now in the UK, US, Spain, Germany, France and Russia.

Speaking about Google Instant, Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of search products and user experience said: “We’re actually predicting what query you’re likely to do and we’re giving you results for that.” A great example of how it works was printed on “Start typing “San Francisco” in the search box and, by the time you get through “San,” you will already see a map of the city, a collection of photos of landmarks and links to Alcatraz and the San Francisco visitors’ centre.” In other words, searchers can see now upfront what goes on behind the scenes upon any given Google search.

Google’s official blog reads, “…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. 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.”

As far as SEO is concerned, Google Instant is already sending waves of concern throughout the industry. SEO professionals are paid to make their customers’ web sites visible on major search engines, but the rules of the game have been changed now by a system that tells users what they’re looking for before they’ve finished typing their query. “SEO is dead” proclaims one blogger, hasty on conclusions.

Just like us, the majority of SEO professionals are more optimistic, claiming that the industry will adapt itself to the new rules as it has before. Google Instant can also change the way search advertising works, devaluing lots of search terms companies bid on. There is no telling now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see, and, what’s more important, be ready to adequately react to this “seasonal change” in the world of search engine optimisation, if there is any.

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