As an end user, Google Instant sounds fantastic as it is going to help you refine your search as you go. After typing only a portion of your query, you may see your completed thought for you in the search box, and looking below will show you the corresponding results. It sounds like it will be at least a somewhat easier experience for your average user.
As a publisher … good luck on trying to figure out how to target keywords so your potential readers will be able to find you.
Make no mistake, Google Instant is an interesting new tool, and I think it could have a lot of uses, but as someone who makes a significant portion of his living blogging, it worries me that sites are going to have a heck of a time getting any sort of decent ranking any more. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a term that most bloggers live and die by, and many people have set up entire businesses around the concept of being “SEO experts” and “SEO gurus”, all of whom amused me because it was akin to trying to turn lead to gold most of the time.
There is going to be a heck of a learning curve for quite some time as we all try to puzzle how it is we get the best rankings in this new search environment, and there may honestly be no silver bullet that solves everyone’s issues. This new way to return results is going to lead to a lot more opportunities for the user to get distracted as they see something scroll by as they type, “Oh, what was that, let me go check it out … wait … what was I looking for originally?”
While Google should be most concerned with how their users find the experience of using their site, this could inadvertently have a negative impact on blogging as a whole: Sites that were just about to crack into decent traffic may see it all disappear, it could be discouraging to people just starting to think to launch a site as they hear the horror stories, already successful sites could see their traffic drop over night and on and on and on.
This is a brave new world of search we have entered today, and Google should be applauded for what must have been a gargantuan engineering feat, but I can’t help to wonder what the possible negative impact may end up being.