Google Instant: Instantly changes positioning?

Google launched yet another innovation to its continually evolving search engine aptly naming it Google Instant. And it is all about instant gratification, the primary driver in today's digital age. The enhancement shows results as a user types and the most obvious change is that  content shows up much faster than the earlier version and before a full search term is typed without having to press ‚Äúsearch".

The somewhat radical advancement has paid marketers and SEO strategists more than mildly alarmed, perhaps with good reason. For AdSense users Google says that impressions are counted whenever a user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the
page or when choosing a particular query by clicking the "search" button and pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries. Impressions are also counted the user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.  Only time will tell whether or not advertisers are going to pay for a lot more for "impressions". However, if advertisers find a lower ROI for their ad dollars they are less than likely to be enthused by the allegedly smarter search tool.

Also left unsaid are what Google Instant does for advertisers who
heretofore bid for 3 + keywords as in Manhattan Midtown Hotels. A search
with Instant for "Manhattan Midtown" shows the former along with other
suffixes like Manhattan Midtown florists which may result in advertisers
needing to compete in the broader (and more expensive) two word
category as consumers may choose to pick hotels based on that.

Google also suggested that SEO placement will not be affected by Instant as it wouldn't change search rankings because search queries using Instant would be tracked as they have always been. Search queries in Instant are measured using a
predicted query ("hotel") versus the actual query ("hot"), If a potential hotel guest typed "Boston Hotels" but obtained the desired search result at "Boston hot" with the predicted term being "Boston Hotels", the Google Analytics report will show Boston Hotels. That assertion by Google was apparently disputed by this web-marketing firm that had the Doubletree hotel as numero-uno prior to the change and found the
Boston Harbor Hotel sitting on first place post-Instant. Doubletree can hardly be pleased with such an outcome. Google does allow a (poorly disclosed) option whereby users may disable the Instant feature but the default option is to leave it on. That may appeal to some consumers who would rather type in a specific search term and see a narrower range of suggestions meeting their needs. Regardless, hotel companies, like all others, have little choice but to work the "improvements" mandated by Google.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.