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How Will Google Instant Affect Search Engine Marketing?

Google's latest upgrade called "Google Instant" adds predictive search elements to your search inquiry. The functionality populates page results before you even finish typing them.

Google feels that this will greatly enhance a user's experience because of it's ability to quickly provide accurate search results.

As I use this feature within Google, I have concerns about some of the business ramifications it may have on search engine marketing.

Will it hyper-inflate the bidding of short tail keyword bids?
Previously, a user needed to click "submit" before results were displayed. The action of pressing this button constituted somewhat of a commitment that the user was specifically looking for an entered keyword. Google Instant begins showing results after only a few characters are entered into the search input field.

Assuming a search result is relevant and accurate, if a user finds a somewhat related result after using a shorter phrase, will they stop inputting additional keywords? Will marketers need to focus more on bidding on these keywords and subsequently drive up the cost of individual keywords?

What will this feature do to long tail keyword bids?
Research has shown that when users make a search query, they will look for the quickest, most accurate result with the least amount of effort. Previously, long tail words offered higher conversions as they were more specific to a user's search query.

However, if results begin appearing after only a few characters being input into the search input field, will the majority of your basic search users stop inputting characters after the first results begin appearing? Will this result in marketers abandoning the long tail and focusing primarily on the short tail keywords? We already know that Google essentially charges less for long tail phrases because they have less bids against them. This subsequently means less money for Google. Making a fundamental change in displaying search results would effectively alter this and result in more income for Google. 

Will marketers begin bidding on incomplete long-tail results in an effort to be listed first?
Previously, if for example I was running a campaign for a hospital in Philadelphia, PA (specifically for a Level One Trauma hospital), I may focus on the long tail term "Level One Trauma Hospital Philadelphia." Do I now need to also bid on incomplete phrases such as "Level One Trauma Hosp" as it is an incomplete term and results could potentially appear for a user? The cynic in me can't help but think that this is potentially an untapped gold mine for Google.

How will this change affect search results below-the-fold
If results can easily be modified by entering in (1) or more characters, will individuals scroll to see additional paid or organic results that appear below-the-fold? Will this change in behavior also force marketers to bid higher to avoid being trapped below-the-fold?

How will Google Instant affect my keywords' Quality Score?
If QS appears to be adversely affected, based on a user's input queries and unwanted impressions are resulted, will agencies begin changing their marketing strategies and ultimately their budgets? Especially in this economy, where relevant results are king, SEM's cannot afford margin for error.

Google states that Quality Score and overall impressions will not be affected and provides the three ways it will be affected. It states, when someone searches using Google Instant, ad impressions are counted in these situations:
  • The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).
  • The user chooses a particular query by clicking the Search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries.
  • The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds
I guess, ultimately the data will speak for itself.

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9/11/2010 01:47:00 PM Subscribe to RSS FeedSubscribe to RSS Feed

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