Google recently launched a change to search for speeding up searching. This has got the SEO community really worked up!

Google says: “Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.”

What content creators need to know about the change is this:

“Smarter Predictions: Even when you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, predictions help guide your search. The top prediction is shown in grey text directly in the search box, so you can stop typing as soon as you see what you need.”

Marissa Mayer Google’s company vice president said that until now, each search typically lasts 25 seconds – 9 seconds of typing, 1 second in which the query reaches Google, is processed and sent back, and 15 seconds during which the user considers which search result to click on. With Google Instant the average search will be shortened by two to five seconds per query – which, given the billions of people who use the service every week, would mean 11 hours of searching saved every second.

Now many tech savy people were put off by the fact that Google was constantly watching and restricing thier search results with personalised search when they were logged into Google, so would sign out to get more natural reasults, with the promise of speed on the table being signed is is a lot more attractive.

Not only that but Google is going to start tweaking their searches in real-time, so Google will constant offer feedback and feedback changes behaviour. So whereas before , if users had turned off personalised search (SEO’ers always do this to see the natural organic search results) everyone would see the same results, SEO is about checking results and and improving position, but that’s going to become more difficult if no two searches are the same (SEO owch!).

It will be more difficult for SEO analysts to work out which results will do well from a particular query, because the results will keep changing as the user types as well as being different for each user being signed into Google. It will also be harder to examine the results mechanically. In addition to this Google will be giving constant offer feedback and feedback changes behaviour.

Google will use your behaviour when you are online to guess what you’re looking for before you finish asking it – in fact, which will begin offering results as soon as you type a letter, it also seems to be prioritising big brands – see Kelvin Newman’s The biggest Winners from Google Instant. Although according to Goggle is is based on the most popular searhes so, for example if you type in W the first suggestion is Weather.

This appeared so unbelievable, not so very long ago – Google said: “In 2000 we thought the idea of being able to search before you typed was so weird we made it our April Fools joke,” Mayer, one of Google’s longest-standing employees, noted. “Just 10 years later we’re seeing that it’s actually possible.”

Read what Google is saying about expecting traffic fluctuations around organic keywords.

This move by Google is really just the beginning of search being about semantics rather than syntax. I will be posting Zachary Colbert’s presentation on this at Brighton SEO soon. Chief executive Eric Schmidt suggested in an interview in August that “As you go from the search box [to the next phase of Google], you really want to go from syntax to semantics, from what you typed to what you meant.”

It is difficult to say what impact Google Instant will have on SEO. What do you think? Leave a coment – I’d be interested.