I was a bit nervous with the introduction of Google Instant. It appeared that there was a major shift in the way that AdWords was going to work. Often times with major shifts, there is opportunity - but I wasn't particularly excited about this opportunity as all of my AdWords campaigns were performing quite well. Fortunately, it has turned out thus far not to be such a major shift after all.
How Google Instant Works
Before Google Instant, you would have to hit the "Google Search" button in order to get results from Google. With Google Instant, search results are displayed as you type. The results change with each keystroke. This has obvious implications for AdWords advertisers. It would seem that your ads would be showing more frequently - possibly for unrelated keywords. Your impressions would almost certainly rise.
Google Instant changes the behavior of Google. In the screenshot above, I have typed just three letters "COL" - as you can see where the number 1 is located. Notice in this area that Google has "guessed" what I was going to type. The greyed out letters are Google's guess based on what I have typed so far. Google is guessing (based on historical data and my location) that I am about to type in "Colorado Rockies".
Google takes this Colorado Rockeis "guess" at what I was going to type based on the letters "COL" - and provides organic search results as well as ads (number 2) based on "Colorado Rockies". This is fine - unless you are running AdWords ads for Colorado Rockies tickets. This means that your ads will be showing for every single query that starts with COL after people type that third keystroke. (note that the search results will vary by user and region)
Taking this example of you running ads for Colorado Rockies Tickets, if someone searched for "Coloring Books" you may receive wasted impressions as they typed in the "COL"- or perhaps even worse - worthless, poorly qualified impulse clicks.
So there is the problem - your ads may show for searches completely unrelated to the actual user's intended search query. Fortunately, I have found this potential negative effect on user campaigns to be quite minimal as described below.
Google Instant Impact on AdWords Campaigns
I have found the impact on AdWords ad campaigns to be minimal thus far. This could in part be because Google has made an attempt to prevent impressions from getting out of control. According to Google, Impressions are only counted with Google Instant in one of the three following cases:
- The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).
- The user chooses a particular query by clicking the Search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries.
- The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.
Why Such a Small Impact on Ad Campaigns
I'm not exactly sure why, but results for my clients have not really changed much since the introduction of Google Instant. Here are a couple of theories.
1) Search Location
It could be that many people don't actually conduct searches from the Google home page. Many probably just have a Google Toolbar and do there searching from the toolbar. The Toolbar doesn't feature Google Instant results - at least not yet.
2) User Behavioral Change
Users may be so used to typing out their complete query that they're ignoring the Google Instant results. Despite Google's best efforts to make search easier (and quicker) it may be that the users haven't noticed it or are already set in their ways of searching. It may take a while for Google Instant to catch on if this is the case.
How Does This Help Me Market My Denver Small Business?
It is very difficult for Denver small business owners to keep track of all of the changes and products that Google is constantly introducing with the search engine and with AdWords. Google actually just introduced a new website - "Google New" - that attempts to consolidate the dizzying volume of new products and product updates in one place. You can rest assured that this website will be updated multiple times each day. There is so much to keep track of.
Denver small business owners who have the time and aptitude to keep up with search engine and ad platform changes in technology would be wise to use a resource like Google New. However, I would guess that most Denver small business owners likely have too many responsibilities and would be wise to consider outsourcing online marketing activities to someone who makes it their job to keep up with the constant changes.