This follow-up to the piece An instant with Google Instant furthers the analysis of this issue.

The SERP has changed, or better still, the SERP now changes with every keystroke:

  • The first page is now the key component of the search. Where before it was already unlikely that a user would go beyond the second or third page of results returned, Google Instant brings the relevance of the Top 10 results into even sharper focus.
  • The visual content fully captures the user’s attention. The SERP becomes a kaleidoscope where Web maps, images and videos stand out against any text content.
  • Google Instant minimizes bad searches due to spelling or grammatical errors, and this has a direct impact on those pages that feed off such mistakes.
  • The space on the SERP dedicated to organic results is reduced in favor of suggestions. This can lead to a page where there is just one organic result for every eight sponsored links. Let’s take a look:
  • Now more than ever, webmasters will have to draw Google users’ attention with the title and snippet (the brief text below the title describing the Web page).
  • Interestingly, adult pages are ignored by Google Instant. Try searching, say, for “sex” and you’ll see that the search engine does nothing. Of course certain search terms may suffer collateral damage, careful if you’re looking for “Whorfian hypothesis” for example.
  • The influence of the ‘long tail’ is questionable:
    • The long tail can be partially cannibalized by head terms, as before a long search term such as “Antivirus in Spanish compatible with Windows 7” is entered, a ‘good enough’ result may be displayed.
    • It’s also true that simple searches, such as “Antivirus” will generate more specific suggestions such as “Free antivirus in Spanish”.
  • Well known brands will benefit: after entering just one or two letters, don’t be surprised to see the name of a famous company.

It only takes an instant to forget a lifetime, but sometimes even a lifetime isn’t enough to forget an instant.

In a few months we will know exactly the impact that Google Instant has on the search trends of users, as well as on Search Marketing strategies. For the moment, we just have to make educated guesses.

While it’s true that Google Instant represents a significant step forward, it shouldn’t really alter the fundamentals of SEO/SMO, at least not to the extent that some fear. Sleep tight everyone.