In September 2010, Google launched “Google Instant“, a feature that shows results instantly beneath the search bar as you type in a search query. Initially, I was worried that AdWords Impression rates would increase without clicks, so that CTR’s and Quality Scores would decrease as an effect. But Google later stated that an Impression is not registered unless a person actually clicks on the submit button, hits enter, or does not change the search query for three seconds. Now that several months has passed since the evolution of Google Instant; I still have not really seen much of an impact on how the search user adapts (or not) to the instant results. Instant search results are for those only logged into their Google account, so there are a large number of searchers that this does not affect.
When it comes to long tail keywords vs. head keywords (the more general search terms) I have heard that some feel that since Google is showing results in real-time and trying to be predictive, that search engine users will no longer type such long search strings. Others say just the opposite that this will get people to type in long tail keywords since they can see they need to further refine their results to what they are looking for. Additionally, people are concerned that only those listing in the upper fold of the search results page will get the majority of traffic as people will be less inclined to scroll down the page. All in all, Google did not change the way sites are indexed, rather they did change the way search results are displayed.
Since results are still ranked according to relevancy, if you have decent rankings on a particular set of keywords, you will still maintain those positions. However, as users use instant search to qualify results, they no longer browse the full results page. Top placements therefore receive dramatically more impressions than in the past.
To learn more, visit our Resource Center.