Today Google announced Google Instant, a predictive search results feature they have just added. This is not a re-working of the Google algorithm at all, it is just a very smart and logical feature addition. Google added predictive search queries a while back, this is what is responsible for all those phrases showing up in a drop-down style menu when you start typing a phrase into Google’s search bar. Google Instant is the next step along that path. Now, instead of just phrases popping up as you are typing, the actual search results will start to filter based on what you are typing, as you type.
Google says that this will reduce the time of each search by 2-5 seconds, and I bet that will turn out to be true. What’s important to know here is that this shouldn’t affect the long-standing SEO best practices at all. What it does mean is that being listed in the first half of the results on the first page is more important than ever. It also means that having a long-term and consistent content strategy is more important than ever. This is because both predictive search terms and predictive results make it easier for the searcher to figure out exactly what term they are looking for. The more detailed the search terms are, the more important the long tail of search becomes.
So, how will Google Instant affect SEO best practices? Not at all. What is of note here is that Google Instant makes results 1-5 of the first page even more valuable than they were before, and everything after that far less valuable.