Google Instant and Long-tail Search


Last week Google launched Google Instant an update to the interface of Google that shows results as you type. Since that day there has been buzz all around the web about how this change will effect SEO. The most common concern would be a decrease in Long-Tail searches. Long-Tail searches are searches that are very targeted. An example of a short-tail search would be “shoes”, where an example of a long-tail search would be “white nike basketball shoes”.

Many websites(usually start-ups or small businesses) rely on long-tail searches to bring traffic to their websites. This is based upon the difficulty and low conversion rate of short tail phrases. For example lets look at how many results there are for our short-tail and long-tail phrases;


white nike basketball shoes

As you can see from our search, our short tail search had 272,000,000 results where our long-tail had 503,000 results. This means there where less pages on the internet competing for that combination of keywords.

With Google Instant many experts are concerned that it will encourage users to settle for the shorter suggested Google searches, rather than creating a more unique targeted search phrase.  Others on the other hand think that it will encourage users to keep typing until the suggestion is more specific to their need, this would cause long-tail searches to increase.

After reading over many of these articles, I think bottom line is; time will tell. As SEO professionals we need to keep a close eye on analytics, continue using best practices and analyze user behavior as this update is surely going to effect the way people search.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Zack
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 19:56:52

    Thanks for the post! I think you’re right “only time will tell” how/if this changes a searchers behavior. My two cents (for what they’re worth) are too still uphold the fundamental principals of good SEO (writing for the user, not the search engines). By doing so we are providing value to the end user which would in turn provides value to the search engines, which would hopefully yield good results for the website(s). Maybe that’s a conservative view point, but it just seems the most logical to me. :)

  2. paintball barrel
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 13:57:18

    Haha I like your conclusion “I have no conclusion” ;)
    but seriously, this is a definite area of concern for optimization etc. I’m pretty sure I’m seeing patterns change since this went live, some longer phrases that were once very popular are now dropping popularity, at least in some experiments I’ve sene.

  3. WhatPriceIndia
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 08:32:31

    Although, i didn’t like it that much initially, i sure enjoy the Google instant for one good reason.

    Ironically, the long tail keyword searches works really well with Google instant. The thing is, when i type my long tailed keyphrase, everytime i add a new word i get different search pages, So when i try to type, say a 4 words keyphrase, i get to see more than 30 different results and sometimes i find the exact page i am looking for when i am typing half way and would have not found the page if i had typed the whole search phrase.

    But sometime Google Instant does get on my nerve :D and i will simply disable it for a while.

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