On September 8, 2010, Google announced that it would be launching new search technology: Google Instant. Many searchers didn't even notice, and if they did, their biggest concern was whether the constantly changing results as they type made their eyes go buggy. Assisted living providers who focus on building an online presence, however, wondered how this new search technology would impact their optimization efforts.

Expert opinions are strongly divided into three camps:

  • Those who say Google Instant killed SEO
  • Those who say Google Instant will improve SEO
  • Those who believe it makes no difference
SEO is sometimes like trying to play a game without knowing the rules, or perhaps playing a video game with someone else who knows all the secret hacks but won't share. As we know well, Google makes the rgoogleules, but they're known for holding the cards close to the chest. For this reason, it may be difficult to tell the impact Instant will have on SEO for several months, when sufficient keyword data is available to be analyzed.

The biggest fear is that long-tail key phrases will become obsolete, as many searchers will put in only the first word in a phrase before seeing results relevant to what they intended to search for. Long-tail key phrases are generally easier to rank for and less expensive to bid on than popular general terms.  Others believe, however, that when key phrases are suggested to searchers, they'll be more inclined to use more specific terms, therefore increasing the number of long-tail keyword searches overall.

Before making drastic changes to your marketing plan or hopelessly abandoning your SEO plans altogether, we suggest waiting it out a few months to see how things play out. In the meantime, stick to your plan. You don't want to throw another variable into the mix right now, because then you can't be sure whether traffic and keyword changes are attributable to Google Instant or something else.

Image Copyright Spencer E. Holtaway on Flickr Creative Commons