Google Instant’s SEO tsunami

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.

Choose a short name!
Google Instant tip by Geek and Poke

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.

5 thoughts on “Google Instant’s SEO tsunami”

  1. Hey Andrés, nice article by the way.
    I do not know exactly how does Google Instant work, I mean, how do they decide which words fit better with my profile while I am writing. Because in theory they get the information from my account in Google and then they show me the most accurate results. But if I type for example just one ‘p’; Google proposes: ‘pandora’, ‘paypal’, ‘pizza hut’ and ‘petco’. Maybe once in my life I have searched for the words pandora, paypal and pizza hut but I do not even konw what petco means. Does Google ignore other words which begin with ‘p’ that I use more often, such as ‘pimpampunk’, the name of my blog?
    Does it really matter?

  2. Thanks Joako,

    Google has used for a while the information from your previous searches, showing first the results they know you like better when you use Google and you have logged in… and probably even without logging in, using your IP.

    I guess right now for instant they are using the same idea than when showing you the guess of what you are looking for, and it’s probably based worldwide or in an area or in the Google version you are using (.com, .es., etc). Probably if you check in Google trends you will see how often people search for pizza hut, paypal, pandora and petco (american chain of supplies for pets, believe it or not), and probaly those words are big trends now, compared to other “p”, like the really common “potatoe”.

    So Google reads your P and looks what people normally search starting with P, and shows it to you.

    All of this, with a huge “may be” on it, I don’t really know 😉

  3. “Google is going to show users what they have never been searching for.” I think you hit it right on the nail however I don’t think Google will allow people to rank for incomplete words such as lapto because that will make them lose credibility.

    You raise a very good point but I think Google will find a way to deal with it.

    Very good analysis. I wish I could write more to explain my point but basically I believe that with the philosophy of Google, it won’t happen like that in practice or if it does, it won’t be for long.

  4. @Alphonse: I really like your point on how Google has to avoid the “incomplete words”, but I think that is a hard one. Think about an-any-anymore, for example, or pot-potatoe, pan-pandora, pay-paypal, link-linkedin…. even for Google that is a lot to control!

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