How will Google Instant Search affect paid and organic search reports?


Webtrends Analytics 9.x
Webtrends Analytics 8.x


Google Instant Search, released September 8, 2010, allows users to search dynamic results as they type their keywords. A predicted keyword will display unfinished as grey text in the search field while other possible entries will display below, the unfinished part in bold. Links and summaries of the predicted text in the search field display below this. Google Instant Search differs from its predecessor in that the previous method required a keyword or phrase to be submitted for relevant URLs to be displayed. Although the predictive terms were present, no links were available until the Search button was clicked.

Technically, Google Instant Search will not affect search engine results. As before, Google will appear in the referrer field and the “q” parameter will denote the search terms used. However, if a predicted search term’s link is selected, the value of the “q” parameter will display the predicted search term rather than the partial one that had been entered. This can impact search results because visitors can potentially be driven down predictive paths without completing their search terms, making organic search results less effective and requiring higher investments in paid search. Additionally, the Search Keywords and Search Phrases reports are likely to show fewer unique terms and fewer partial terms as well, reducing the significance of such results if considered relevant metrics.

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