The first thing to bear in mind wrt. Google instant is that, currently, it isn’t the default behavior from Google.co.uk. Users must be logged in to their Google accounts, if they have them.
However, it is the default behavior in Google.com which requires that users disable instant if they don’t want the suggestions.
Will Google Instant become the default behavior from Google.co.uk?
It is fair to assume that this will be the case sooner or later. Whether the way that instant works will stay the same remains to be seen.
Will Google Instant Affect Organic SEO?
Since the same ranking algorithm is in place, fundamentally instant will not affect the way in which key SEO factors such as top quality, regularly updated content, clear page titles that include important keyterms, site architecture and internal linking and, of course, inbound links – influence search engine rankings. SEO objectives to gain higher rankings for an increasing range of relevant keyterms are still valid.
Change In They Way We Search?
However Google instant is likely to affect the way in which *some* searchers conduct their searches.
The term suggestions that Google returns when 1, 2, 3 letters are entered into the search box are based upon probabilities. E.g. If someone enters the letter ‘c’ they are presented with the suggestions:
Currys, Comet, cbbc, cineworld and c. These must therefore be the most popular search queries starting with the letter ‘c’. In order for the term ‘Comet’ to move to the top of this list this term must become a more popular search query than Currys.
The extent to which Google instant will influence the way in which searchers behave will need to be assessed. It is important to pay attention to data from Google webmaster tools and Google analytics that provide some insight into searchers behavior. E.g. Changes in the volume of organic traffic coming to a site as a result of 1,2,3 or 4 word search queries and conversions that result from these visits.
There is the possibility that some traffic will be attracted from search sessions that would not have previously returned any traffic. E.g. A searcher wants to look up something to do with the Washington Redskins. They start typing the word ‘Washington’ but when they get as far as ‘Washing’ they are presented with the term ‘Washing Machines’, greyed out in the search box, and a page of washing machine search results. In some cases the searcher may be prompted to pause at this stage and click on one of these results, which would not have previously been presented in a search session for the term ‘Washington Redskins’.
The bottom line is that SEO best practices have not been affected by Google instant. One aspect that is significant is that the instant suggestions push the organic results down the screen which makes it even more important to be in the top few search results. It is also important to pay close attention to data provided by Google webmaster tools and analytics as this is likely to provide the most useful insight into its influence on searcher behavior.