It has been a week since Google released Google Instant, and I have read many articles and opinions talking about how this is a major change in how users will search, and how this is going to affect SEO and SEM. I agree with most of them (although I deactivated Instant Search after only a couple of days), but I believe some people are missing the key factor: Google is going to show users what they have never been searching for.
Right now people are used to search by writing out full questions, sentences, names or, at least, keywords; Google would then display the results for those queries. Therefore, any SEO/SEM strategy was configured to work once the user finished writing and clicked on “search”.
From now on, users are going to have their search results before writing out everything and therefore any strategy based on search engines is going to have to make some changes there as well. Rank #1 for the term “laptops” won’t be so important if people only need to type “lapto” to start getting relevant results.
I don’t think that anyone has ever seriously tried to rank first for incomplete words like “lapto”. This means Google Instant won’t find results for that query. It’s going to show results assuming users are actually searching for “laptops”, saving 2 to 5 seconds per search.
But what’s going to happen when competitors decide to reach rank #1 for the query “lapto”? I don’t think users are actually going to write incomplete words, but Instant is going to show those results, before it even searches for the whole word “laptops”. If a company can’t get first position in Google when users type “laptops”, they will still have a chance to appear before it’s competitors.
So users didn’t search for it, and they won’t search for it, but Instant will make them go through it. It’s like having a whole new Google. Even better considering that until all the SEO/SEM strategies are updated there won’t be a lot of competition to rank high for those words: it will be easy to be first for “lapto” since no one has gone for it before.
I think Google Instant represents a great opportunity for companies that haven’t managed to position their websites through their keywords, either because of being new or because back then their managers didn’t believe in the importance of SEO. Now is the best time to catch up.