Google rolled out instant search today, causing the declaration, “SEO is Dead!” for the nine-hundredth time (I have a running tally) since Search was born. There’s a lot of speculation as to what Google Instant will actually do to traffic, both paid and organic. Let’s just start with the basics.
With Google Instant, what counts as an impression? (emphasis mine, via)
As a result, Google Instant changes the way we think about impressions. With Google Instant, an impression is counted if a user takes an action to choose a query (for example, presses the Enter key or clicks the Search button), clicks a link on the results page, or stops typing for three or more seconds.
What’s going to happen to my organic search traffic?
There are multiple schools of thought on this, and only time will tell, so it’s definitely worth keeping a close eye on the actual numbers. Many people are speculating that organic traffic for smaller websites will start to drop off, since searchers are being funneled to Google’s suggested searches (eg. “What’s up with Google today?”). Another idea is that long tail traffic could actually increase as searchers are looking at the search results, watching them become closer and closer to what they’re seeking as the query gets longer.
Either way, it’s still just important today for a website to be optimized as it was yesterday. Google still needs to be able to effectively crawl and index a site in order to figure out where to place it–instant search or not. So keep an eye on your numbers, and let us know what you see!
Update: for some more in-depth analysis, head over to Google Instant on The Kent Lewis Experience