Google just keeps impressing me. But this time “impressed” and “happy” have diverged.

I think.

Everybody’s favorite search engine has started doing something new. If you use Google’s standard home-page search tool, you no longer need to hit <Enter> to get results from your search. Search results are displayed AS YOU TYPE. It’s really pretty amazing to watch, and I’ll cop to one of the things Google is saying in talking about “Google Instant”: you really might get a chance to discover a few things that you’ll miss when typing an entire search term and telling Google to execute your search is necessary.

But wow is this ever a business change that benefits Google more than it does you.

Google has become the world’s largest advertising agency. Showing ads is where they generate most of their revenue. So if they can show ten times as many ads as you type the letters in J-E-F-F Y-A-B-L-O-N into a search box as they would if they only show results once you’re done, they’re going to make more money. No, not ten times as much, but a bunch.

The benefit to you? As I said before maybe you get a chance to see a few things that matter to you, but let’s face it: the chance of you learning anything new if you happen to look up when you’ve gotten as far as J-E-F-F Y-A-B along the way to searching for my name is pretty slim.

Google Instant also addresses a control issue that Google spends a tremendous amount of money trying to get on top of. Google doesn’t like that there are businesses that help others gain higher SEO rankings, and Google Instant makes doing Search Engine Optimization a lot more complicated.

Again, this makes Google Instant a win for Google, but it becomes a loss for you if Google goes evil. But we trust Google not to manipulate results, right?

Mostly, Google Instant makes me think about how important speed is becoming in the Google search algorithm. And the business change is that it re-defines the position of SEO firms: if your position in Google’s results is harder to manipulate via content, at least it’s clear that speed really does matter; you can address that.

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