In the old days, users typed a search query and clicked a button (or hit enter) to generate their search results. Today, the game has changed. With Google Instant, search results are displayed in real-time as the user enters their query, predicting results based on your locality and past search history.
For this user, this means less clicking around to find the results they’re looking for. Google claims that Instant reduces the average search by 2-5 seconds. (In the pre-Instant world, the average search took about 25 seconds.)
But what about SEO? For publishers and advertisers, things get a little trickier. Instant search results include paid search listings, which has led to a change in the way Google defines a paid search impression:
“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.
It’s possible that this feature may increase or decrease your overall impression levels. However, Google Instant may ultimately improve the quality of your clicks since it helps users type queries that more directly connect them with the answers they need.”
Source: Google Inside AdWords http://adwords.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-instant-more-innovative-approach.html
If you already focus your SEO efforts on natural search strategies (think quality content & links), Google Instant won’t rock your world. But the length of the average search query is likely to shorten, so focusing on your core keyword ranking becomes more important than ever. As always, the most relevant results will still be the ones that rise to the top.
As for how to use those extra 2-5 seconds? The possibilities are endless.