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Hot Topic: Google Instant

Ever the master of innovation, Google has done it again. Google Instant was released less than a month ago, and has been a hot topic of debate ever since.

If you have performed a Google search in recent weeks, you are probably aware of how it works. As soon as you type the first letter into the search box, Google begins guessing as to what you are searching for based on not only the letters you type, but also takes things such as geography into account.

Let’s test it out, shall we?

I type “m”, and it instantly suggests the following search terms: MapQuest, MSN, Myspace, and Mediacom. Now, in an instant, I know that if I do a search for “m”, Mapquest.com is listed in the all-important first position on the first page of results.

I journey on. My search box now reads “me.” The search results change instantaneously, revealing Mediacom Cable as the new top positioned website. I add a “t” and presto, Metacritic’s website takes over first place. Finally, as my search phrase becomes “metro s,” Metro Studios assumes the top spot in the search results leader board.

Google Search for Metro Studios

Okay, so Google Instant is kind of fun, but what are the other implications? Will people begin searching differently? What does this mean for impression-based paid advertising when the results keep changing by the keystroke? And what does this mean for SEO strategy?

It’s easy to understand why this enhancement to the most widely used search engine in the world has caused such a stir.

How will it affect users? I think initially, quite a few people will find the new feature to be a bit distracting. However, in a sense, it might not be that big of a change. After all, Google Suggest has been around for a while, so users have already been introduced to some of the features.

What does this mean for paid advertising? One of the biggest questions was in regards to how Google would define impression counts for paid advertising. Google offers a good explanation here.

Is this the death of SEO? That couldn’t be less true. If anything, this should add to the importance of keyword optimization. This also reminds us that Google has been known to change things without much of a warning. What’s this mean? It means that SEO strategies continually evolve, and need to be diverse across multiple search engines.


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