On 9th September Google announced and made available a new version of its search engine which they claim is the most significant upgrade in several years.

They chose 9/11 to make ‘Google Instant’ available to the US – and the following week most major European countries – in fact you may have already experienced GI in the UK by the time you are reading this, if not, you will very soon.

What Google Instant does is bring together a feature which has been available for a while now, that of predictive autofilling, which you will have experienced, with a new feature – the real time display of search results as this predictive text changes. Magic! You don’t even need to hit return the results keep changing as you type….


Have a look at the 90 second demo video on this page to see how it works…

Google Instant

Quite how they have woven this piece of magic is beyond most people – if you think about it a large part of the world’s knowledge is stored in Google’s servers and this is now accessible to us in real time as we type in queries.

Don’t underestimate ‘fast’ is what Eric Schmidt said about this – this is really the mission of Google to speed up the process of search and to knock several seconds off a typical search. They claim that this will make the world more efficient by saving 38,000 hours for every second that passes now that over 1 billion searches get conducted every week.

Google Instant and SEO

We’ve had the normal extremist response to this from some sectors who make brash claims every time Google announces anything – from ‘this is the death of SEO’ to this ‘makes SEO more important then ever’. As always we’ll probably find that although Google is now ‘instantthe impact on SEO will be anything but.

Here’s some of my thoughts regarding SEO and GI …

  1. Google themselves explicitly state that the algorithms that drive both SEO and Adwords will not be affected by this. All that’s affected is the speed with which search can be conducted and how fast results get displayed. However, it’s certain that over time we’ll develop different strategies and tactics to exploit this new approach. (In fact I detail one of our own in our new seminar and workshop series – see below for dates – centered around ‘predictive autofilling SEO’)
  2. It would seem to make the ‘above the scroll’ results more important than ever. In fact it’s difficult to see why you would want to go ‘below the scroll’ anymore – as by simply changing what you type and using the results displayed to guide you, you will effectively be bringing the most important results above the scroll as you type. Will anybody ever need to go to page two results now?
  3. It also would seem to make the ‘head phrases’ – that is the popular ones that tend to get auto predicted – more important. So maybe more SEO effort will now be more centred on top 3-5 results of major phrases as opposed to spending too much time on ‘longer tail’ phrases.
  4. It would certainly seem to make the optimisation of title and description tags very important as the top few positions compete for your clicks. So producing really good ‘call to action’ focused snippets is crucial – but not much change there really…
  5. Just to put the whole thing into perspective though – users still have the option of switching GI off or on, and even then its only available if you are ‘signed in’ to your Google account which will eliminate, I would guess, over 90% of searchers. Having said that GI will surely evolve to be available whether you are signed in or not just as other ‘personalisation’ features already have.


Whilst we are talking about how SEO may develop and the importance of it in the future let me give you my opinion here. I believe SEO is here to stay, forever. We’ve hung our hats and our futures on it. (NB – when I say forever you understand I’m using the computer and internet scale here, where soon is next week, in the near future is next month and forever means somewhere between 3 to 5 years hence (immediately means yesterday).

If you think about it search has become an intrinsic part of our lives whether in business or pleasure – we search for everything. The user interface may change – for example we may be using our internet TV to search for programmes on ‘dinosaur evolution’, or using our IPhone to search for local hotel deals, we may even use voice to control these devices – but the fundamental task of using ‘words’ to find useful information remains, and whilst this is the case there will always be a need for businesses to ensure they maximise their visibility through their website and other web properties. That is, to use SEO.

Here’s some forthcoming events where we discuss this and lots of other interesting SEO stuff in more detail…

Jan at the Institute of Directors (IOD)

Online Marketing and Social Media – 22nd September, Manchester

Jan at the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)

Online Marketing and Social Media – 12th October , Stoke-on-Trent

Attend our latest course – including Social Media Marketing and the latest Google ranking factors – next delivery is 16th November at Liverpool, Radisson Hotel – course detail.