My 3 takeaways on Google Instant

Google Instant launched today. It’s rolling out to a Google web search box near you, very soon. If you missed the memo, it goes a bit like this:

Google shows results as you type now, in real-time.

If your account has it, try it out. Here’s a few thoughts as I was watching the press conference today…

1. I wholly agree with Neil Bearse’s assessment that this is going to totally wreck your PPC display to click numbers. Ads are refreshing in real-time based on your query as you build it. Try it – start typing marketing podcast slowly, and you’ll see the PPC ads change rapidly. If you’ve been relying on certain impression-based metrics, get ready to toss those out.

Watch as I type marketing:

marketing jobs - Google Search

and then one more letter, marketing p:

marketing plan - Google Search

Change of ads in real-time. Do all of these count as impressions? No – Google has a 3 second rule to prevent massive over-display numbers, but 3 seconds is still way faster than ad churn under Old Google.

2. The rage in SEO for years has been long tail queries. Long tail page directories have been the fashion and the institution for some time now. However, notice that results begin to appear the moment you start to type your query. If you as a consumer see results that are relevant in the first two terms, you’re going to stop typing and start clicking.

The short head is back in business – expect much heavier competition for short head terms. The winner of the short head terms? Those with the largest warchests to spend to get to #1 for very common terms. Can’t compete on a very popular term? Start creatively thinking about using LDA-related queries to at least mitigate the damage.

3. Geo-targeted local search is built in. I started to type University of and College of while I was sitting in Federal Hill, Baltimore, Maryland instead of where I normally sit. Guess what queries automatically populated and what started showing:

university of maryland - Google Search

Bear in mind I was logged into my regular Google account, which most often queries from Metrowest Massachusetts. Based on my location via Internet connection (since I don’t use any checkin services), Google was doing real time searching where I am, automatically. If you’re not registered with Google Places, now you’re losing even more business. Get registered and set up right now.

Google Instant changes human behavior. It’s spooky to watch, but downright scary for marketers trying to be found amidst more and more competition online.

Are you ready for Instant?


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  • http://www.TheMarketingSpot.com Jay Ehret

    Whether or not we are ready for Instant, it looks like we’re getting it anyway. My question, as a searcher, is: Why is it necessary? Did Google answer that question?

  • http://www.grizzard.com/author/epratum/ Eric Pratum

    Google Instant is unlikely to completely change SEOs’ focus. That being said, this raises the visibility of your ads while decreasing the visibility of your organic rankings if you show up lower than, say, spot 3 or 4 on any phrase. What I am curious about is how this affects things like the visibility of the seven pack.

  • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

    I don’t think the seven pack is in as much danger as page two, personally.

  • Simon

    Bearing in mind Google Instant is only for logged in users is there any published data on how many people search google while logged in v those who don’t have a google account / don’t log in all the time – or is it going to roll out to users who aren’t logged in?

    It’ll be interesting to see how this affects keyword research if partial keyword impressions are recorded as keywords in google’s keyword tool.

    We’ll probably just start to get the hang of it in time for it to go the same way as wave…

  • Simon

    And all the logged in users who search from the address bar won’t notice google instant results either…

  • http://twitter.com/ben_hebert Benjamin Hebert

    Great blog post – I also love the federal hill area!

  • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

    I’m with Simon on this one. How many people go to Google.com to execute their searches? I don’t, but then again I’m likely not the “average” googler, right? I either use the toolbar search or more often than not – when in Chrome – I just type in the address bar.

    Thoughts, Mr. Penn?

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory
    @djwaldow

  • http://twitter.com/SEObySwaby Nigel Swaby

    Good point on the PPC implications. I didn’t think this was too big of a deal until I saw that.

  • http://www.ChristopherSPenn.com Christopher S. Penn

    Many. Many, many, many. Like my wife, who has iGoogle as her homepage. Many people start there. Firefox defaults to it. Chrome defaults to it.

  • Simon

    Google instant doesn’t show on igoogle… I’m sure a lot of people will see google instant, but a lot – maybe a lot more won’t (at least for now) the question is how do we now optimise for both? Off to scratch my head a bit more.