Google Instant & The Hype It’s Caused

Exactly two months ago today, Google launched their Google Instant (GI) technology.

As you type a keyword phrase into Google’s search box, GI attempts to predict what you want to search for and populates keyword suggestions and results in real time.

Google Instant

When GI first launched, many affiliate marketers were in an uproar.  Some claimed Google Instant was going to kill SEO and drastically hurt affiliate marketers.

Let’s say you receive a lot of traffic from the phrase birthday party decorating tips and someone starts typing that phrase.  GI’s suggestion could derail that search and cause the surfer to select a different keyword.

As a result, traffic from that keyword and other long-tail keywords could potentially decrease.

Misspell optimization is another area GI analysts have focused on. For years, people have been capitalizing on misspelled words by optimizing their pages and creating PPC campaigns for them.  This is one area that may be hurt by GI.

Try typing in the word Justin at Before you even type “Bieber”, (a name that that could easily be misspelled), GI populates the correct spelling.  Even if you try to misspell it, GI only suggests the correct spelling.

I wonder how many PPC-ers have adjusted or flat out deleted their “misspell campaigns” in light of Google Instant?

I Was Waiting for the Dust to Settle

I purposely did not blog about this in September when GI launched.  I knew there was going to be a bunch of panicky people predicting the worst before taking time to see what was going to happen.  So I just wanted to sit back and observe for a bit.

Because of how Google Instant works, you’re naturally going to lose some traffic (especially long-tail keywords.)  But what about the traffic you gain when your site shows up in the results as the searcher is typing or when Google suggests a term that you rank high for?

I honestly think it balances out for the most part.

I compared my Google traffic before Instant launched to after.  Nothing much has changed.  I am receiving more traffic from certain keywords and less from others, but I have not seen a drastic difference in traffic overall.

The data collected by SEOmoz three weeks after Instant launched seems to support my own findings.

Bottom Line

It’s always a good idea to keep abreast of new technology like this, but be careful about jumping to conclusions until you see how everything plays out.

So far Google Instant hasn’t appeared to be the SEO killer many predicted, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

It’s also a reminder of how important it is to diversify your traffic.  What if this really did have a negative impact on your traffic? Would your business survive?  If anything, this should be a reminder to never put all your eggs in one basket.

What do you think of Google Instant?  Has it changed the way you search?  Notice any changes in your traffic since the launch?

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  1. says

    Google Instant indeed is a time saver. I hardly misspell but yes, there are times when I get confused over some spellings and this is when Google Instant is an instant help. There is actually no chance of typing the wrong words.

  2. says

    I don’t like Google Instant. I like to display 100 results at a time, and unfortunately I can’t use this, and Google Instant at the same time.

  3. says

    Google Instant is really a timesaver. But I think this will cut the traffic on a lot of low competition long tail keywords, because searchers will be directed to the more popular and more competitive keywords that Google suggests for them.

  4. says

    i have 1500 websites-the top 300 were 900,000 on alexa-the others ranged from 2,000,000-21,000,000-now only 21 sites survive on alexa-ranging from 8,000,000-27,000,000-it happened overnight-in september-and the rest of them have no traffic anymore-i’ll bet it was instant that caused this-thanks for the alert.

  5. says

    At least from my point of view. I look at the upside of Google instant.

    I used it as a tool to add to a growing list of keyword phrases I am accumulating for a new site I am working on..

    Put in one phrase – went down the whole alphabet and copied down each “instant” result.

    search term a
    search term b
    search term c
    and so, and so on….

    Kind of tedious, but it was well worth it for my purposes..

    There is a piece of software that does this automatically, just can’t think of it at the moment…

    Robert C – The Wholesale Products Guy

  6. says

    I agree. I also like it. Then again, my site is small enough that organic traffic wasn’t a huge contributor, and still isn’t really. I also haven’t heard any complaints even from regular contributors, so all in all, I think it’s a win for Google Instant.

  7. says

    I’m really not surprised to see so many negative comments about GI, I can’t stand it either! I normally know exactly what I want to search for and type it and hit enter while google is still trying to decide what I’m going to type.

    Also, there have been several occasions where it has guessed wrong and left me unable to search for the term I’m looking for! Maybe that’s just me not being able to use it properly…

    Surely we should be focusing on the content of our sites, rather than the keywords? Why would you spend so much effort optimising for a misspelt keyword when you could be optimising for content? Maybe not…I guess I’m kinda new…

  8. says

    You’re right, it’s my opinion as well that one thing balances another. You may lose on long keywords, but some shorter keywords receive much more display than before. Now the main thing, that people, while writing, notice suggestions and follow it.
    I think, so far there’s nothing to worry about. People are creatures of habit, and we’re used to type our search-words to the end, even if some instant results are shown in the process. I think most people still do so, and they get to the same keywords as before.

  9. kari says

    Personally, as far as searching goes, I am not a big fan of GI. I typically have quite a few tabs open and jump around between them. When I go to google something, I’m typing fast and GI doesn’t seem to catch some of the characters (while it’s thinking of what to suggest). I end up backspacing to retype. I have turned it off…. BUT to those who love it, more power to you ? I just don’t personally…

  10. says

    To be honest I have seen a slight increase in my visitors coming from google searches.

    I am sure that those who have done some honest SEO will not have problems…

  11. says

    Interesting to see so many negative comments about the GI function itself. I actually like it and it has been pretty good about guessing what I want to type. So any time I can save a few keystrokes, I’m all for it. :)

  12. says

    Hi Lisa,

    As a newbie in Internet Marketing I was a bit nervous with all the top Marketers babbling on like drunken teenagers, but I’ve seen a dramatic jump with traffic in one of my sites so I’m happy out.

    I also sort of like GI as it has made it a little easier to find whats popular on the net. Only time will tell.

  13. says

    I don’t ever depend on search engine traffic alone…

    I am always self-promoting by using Twitter. Facebook, my classes, my radio show, and several social networking sites.

  14. says

    Hi Lisa,
    I’ve actually noticed an increase in Google traffic, but I can’t say that it’s directly tied to GI. I’m not really worried about how it will affect my traffic – I honestly love the new search feature. I like how intuitive it is, that means less work on my part. I also like that when you’re not in the mood, it can easily be disabled.

  15. says

    Speaking from a content searcher’s point of view instead of a webmaster’s point of view, I could not stand Google Instant. It constantly made me mess up what I was trying to type in the search box because it predicts too quickly! If you log into your google account and go to your search settings page, you will see an option to disable google instant.

    In terms of my web traffic, I have seen a decrease on one of my sites, but I assumed it was because the holiday season was approaching. I usually get less traffic and revenue between October and December.

  16. says

    I personally find GI a bit annoying, because most of the time when I do a search, I exactly know what I am looking for. Because of that, I still type in my entire phrase and even hit “Enter”. I therefore ignore GI, and I usually turn it off

  17. says

    I get the impression that the only people hurt by Google Instant are people who have set up ad-filled websites based on incorrect spellings. I always wondered how those sites made money. Do advertisers really think that a kid looking for “Justin Bieber” will spend more than a nanosecond on “,” and therefore pay to have an ad there?

  18. says

    Keyword analysis is something I need to get working on. I’m just guessing on the right keywords to tag for now. I’m going back to your tutorials on keyword analysis. I watched them a few months ago, but I think I would get more out of them now.

  19. says

    Lisa, I’ve heard the complaints about Google Instant from other bloggers also. One of the bloggers I follow lost 65% of his search traffic, which he still hasn’t regained :(

    I’ve haven’t invested too much time targeting long tail keywords but I saw a big spike in traffic to one of my old blogs when GI was introduced. In fact I haven’t posted to that blog in months but the same keywords continue to bring visitors.

    Thanks for sharing your take.

  20. says

    I rank well for several keywords, and they aren’t even related. Traffic from Google has been increasing, and I didn’t even notice Google Instant come into effect.

    Many times if you rank well for one keyword, you may also rank well for related keywords, so Google Instant might work in your favour, especially if one of the related keywords appears in the instant search list.

    I got a kick out of everyone panicking over the Google Instant. It is as if the world had just ended for their online venture. Work hard at what you do online, and you shouldn’t have to worry about the changes that will always happen.

  21. says

    People have to adjust to things they can’t control, and this is one of if you are relying on too much search engine are already in trouble..

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to traffic..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  22. Alex says

    Since the project I’m focusing on right now is not online yet, I cannot answer the question if the new GI technology has changed my traffic. However I can say something about the changes for me as a ‘searcher’. :) At first I thought it was cool and handy but after a few days I turned GI off because it started to get on my nerves. Most of the time when I search for something I know exactly what key words/phrases to type into the search box…so I don’t really need Google to help me. Sometimes it even slowed down my search. I won’t be using the GI technology for my searches…but I will be using it for inspiration when it comes to SEO and keyword research.

  23. says

    I don’t know if people are too serious about this change. I myself don’t see many impacts on the organic traffic.
    Google Instant can change but not kill SEO, and that’s how the web evolves. We should adapt to changes from search engines as specific SEO techniques can’t work all the time.

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