Negative Results of Google Instant Search

My flagship blog is a major victim of the new Google Instant Search which rolled out in very early September.  My blog suffered about a 60% traffic drop since Google Instant search was implemented and most of this came from my loss from Organic search results.


The month prior to Google Instant search my site brought in 14k visitors from searches and averaged about 12-16k visits from Google searches.  The month that includes 2 weeks of Google Instant search my search traffic drops to just 4.2k.  Both of these stats show 30 days of traffic, and though I did lose some direct and referring traffic the majority of the percentage comes from Google search.

In doing closer examination, I looked at my top keywords ranked in Google:

imagePrior to the Google Instant Search implementation my top 10 keywords listed below for the thirty days from July 12th to August 11th 2010.  You can see that 7 of my keywords included 3 or more words.

This is where most of my problem lies, as you may know Google Instant search start showing SERP after the first word is typed and will update results in real time as it predicts your next word and you complete your next word.

This means anything with 3 or more keywords is likely to be hit heavily as a user either finds what they were looking for with fewer keywords or is distracted and clicks on a link from the search results page before they finish typing the entire string they were intending to type.

I also suffered some large traffic drops as some of my highest ranking keywords were pushed off of the front page like Shiny Search and plugins which had accounted for a fair amount of searches. 

I had many visits (over 3000 to my Canon MF3111 posts about how to find Windows 64 bit drivers) many of the keywords were 4 or 5 characters long and this one page showed a huge drop in traffic as most people aren’t typing in so many keywords any longer.

No doubt about it, I had invested 2 years of carefully sculpting keywords and SEO optimizing my blog to point where I didn’t heavily do as much referral link building and traffic.  I had 70% of my traffic coming from search engines and I learned the hard way that you cannot rely on one type of traffic too heavily or else it could go away in a flash.

-Dragon Blogger

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Justin Germino
Working in the IT Industry for over 13 years and specializing in web based technologies. Dragon Blogger has unique insights and opinions to how the internet and web technology works. An Avid movie fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.
Justin Germino


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Justin Germino
By | 2014-08-08T09:33:51+00:00 September 22nd, 2010|SEO|35 Comments

About the Author:

Working in the IT Industry for over 13 years and specializing in web based technologies. Dragon Blogger has unique insights and opinions to how the internet and web technology works. An Avid movie fan, video game fan and fan of trying anything and everything new.


  1. Klaus @ TechPatio September 22, 2010 at 8:22 am - Reply

    I don’t understand your September pie chart. It should add up to 100% in total, but it says 44% of your traffic comes from search engines, 23% from referring sites, 15% direct traffic and 1% from “other”. That adds up to around 83%. Where does the last 17% of your traffic come from? 🙂

    • dragonblogger September 22, 2010 at 8:36 am - Reply

      I had done the image hastily and only updated the search engine stats for the right part, I just redid the snapshot for September and now all metrics are updated.

      • Klaus @ TechPatio September 22, 2010 at 8:37 am - Reply

        Oh okay, now it makes more sense also 🙂

  2. Dana September 22, 2010 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Oh, so that’s how instant search affect your blog. It seems we must try hard to rank for short keyword then.

  3. Debajyoti Das September 22, 2010 at 9:12 am - Reply

    Ya… It really sucks esp for long tail keywords. btw, check out today’s techcrunch article about this…

    • dragonblogger September 22, 2010 at 10:42 am - Reply

      Thanks, I read the article and they do also mention about the SERP showing 6 instead of 8 results as being another factor of view dropoff.

  4. Josiah @ Making a Living Online September 22, 2010 at 10:39 am - Reply

    This is terrible. I’ve noticed a drop across most of my sites as well and i suspect Google instant is the cause.

    I honestly think this isn’t fair to newer sites that haven’t been around for 5+ years. Sites with high authority will always pop-up first because they can rank quicker and easier for shorter keyword phrases..

    • dragonblogger September 22, 2010 at 10:41 am - Reply

      Yep, this also kind of forces companies to have to purchase lower density keywords to ensure better ranking in SERP

  5. Ryan Biddulph September 22, 2010 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Hi DB,

    I’ve learned this difficult lesson as well. Relying on one method or strategy to drive traffic can hurt you when that method is made obsolete.

    Thanks for sharing with us.


  6. Dave Lucas September 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Wow! Have we all learned a lesson here or what? But I think I’m onto something, Draggie! Check out the comments (particularly MINE) on Karen’s blog:

    • dragonblogger September 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm - Reply

      Yeah, renaming articles and redo’ing the meta description to match what first 2 keywords would be searched might help. But what about how to articles, where people type “How do I blah blah”… or “Where do I”….etc These would be difficult at best. Knowing what two words a user will search for is the hard part too.

  7. Extreme John September 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    I like you have learned over the last 10 years that counting on SE traffic is a dangerous business. However you always have to work for it which is an entirely different story.

    • dragonblogger September 22, 2010 at 6:24 pm - Reply

      Yep, complacency was my demise. I counted on organic search traffic to keep growing that I never focused on building backlinks and referall traffic as much.

  8. [email protected] Blog Tips September 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Justin, my blog is so new that I get very little search engine traffic. What’s amazing is that both of my old blogs are doing quite well since the change. I’m totally confused about how Google does it’s thing. Soon as I think I got it figured out, they change it!

  9. Paul Tech September 22, 2010 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Sites with high authority and searchers in general will benefit but for mid to lower-tier bloggers, Google Instant Search has shifted the goal posts drastically.

  10. John Paul Aguiar September 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Man this is why I said Instant was a joke. To sped so much time and money to rank for keywords on Google, then to have Google make a change that screws that all up.. ridiculous man.

    All this because it saves 1.5 sec? iS gOOGLE KIDDING ME?

    Why dont they focus more on ranking relevant sites, not posts that are 3 yrs old, over many other more relevant sites.

    Google has def made a move to focus more on the searcher then on the people providing the info Google needs to exist.. BIG mistake man.

    • dragonblogger September 22, 2010 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      I also read about the censorship problems with the auto fill and list, some kid was typing “How to get” and it filled results with “How to get a girl pregnant” the Mom was a bit upset at this because kid was distracted and started reading the articles.

      • John Paul Aguiar September 23, 2010 at 4:53 am - Reply

        the other issue right now is doing keyword research, the monthly volumes are all off.. what was 40,000 before Instant, def isnt 40,000 now, yet right now, you are seeing the 40,000

        So be careful re-searching keys.

        • dragonblogger September 23, 2010 at 7:24 am

          Right, that has got me taking a step back and refocusing on using more 2 – 3 keyword targets too, I am even going to change post slugs and titles to help capture the main keywords in the first 2 words now as an attempt to compensate

        • John Paul Aguiar September 23, 2010 at 7:37 am

          man I wouldnt touch the slugs and stuff on old posts.. ive larned that to be a mistake. better to just start writing new posts with keywords you want, then it is to change things.

          The rank you have for the longer keys still share a lil power with the smaller keys, so to change that, would end up hurting all your rank.

          Better to take your longer keys, cut them to 2-3 words then write a new post with it. that way you have the juice from both pushing up your new 2-3 key.

        • dragonblogger September 23, 2010 at 7:49 am

          I agree, not touching slugs of old posts that would lead to 404 errors and all sorts of problems. This is going forward for new posts, though I have changed the META description on some older posts.

  11. Andreas September 22, 2010 at 10:25 pm - Reply

    Thats exactly the proof of the results I was blogging about regarding google instant searches.
    Larger websites who occupy the top spots in search engine rankings will eat some of the long-tail traffic as they usually already provide what the searcher looks for (or not…).
    So for google its back to square one, over 10 years ago, where they not even had a tenth of pages in their index.

  12. Tek3D September 22, 2010 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    I can’t give out any conclusions yet as the update just happened for a few weeks. We will need more time to see its effects. At the moment, fortunately I don’t see many changes with my long tail keywords. 😀

  13. Biodun @ UK ecommerce forum September 23, 2010 at 1:11 am - Reply

    This quite not a good news, it seems you have wrote about his before, saying if it wouldn’t affect this blog.
    Its now clear for all of us all not to put our eggs in a basket, not to relay too much on search engine traffic, we should promote through other ways such as social sites and direct links.

  14. Ginny @ Auto Transport September 23, 2010 at 7:04 am - Reply

    Wow. That sucks but this completely changes how we do SEO now. It’s not good for websites like yours and mine but if we adapt to this new system, we can outlast everyone else in the long run.

  15. [email protected] Treatment September 24, 2010 at 12:30 am - Reply

    Like you,i also experienced drastic decrease in traffic to my blogs.Every time google changes their algorithm,the people who thrive on using SEO tactics for traffic gets affected and has to go through a learning curve to accommodate for the changes.Hope i will find a way to get my traffic stats to normal levels again.

  16. [email protected] September 24, 2010 at 7:32 am - Reply

    I’ve see almost the same data in my analytics account. I hope this situation will be solved soon because we loose traffic and money with this new feature implementation in Google searches.

  17. Jorjette September 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Are you sure that Google Instant is the problem of the results?Could’t be more than that?

    • dragonblogger September 25, 2010 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      It could be, the timing could be coincidental, time will tell though.

  18. Kimberly Castleberry September 26, 2010 at 2:15 am - Reply

    I’m really honestly surprised you were hit so hard, I’m down about 4% which as you know can vary month to month. I’m glad I wasnt hit as hard as you. I run about 45% SEO traffic. a 30% loss has got to hurt!

    • dragonblogger September 26, 2010 at 10:17 am - Reply

      It isn’t just one site, two of my sites are down over 65% traffic since Instant Search went live, this is too much for 30 day comparison to be just monthly fluctuation.

  19. [email protected] checklists September 28, 2010 at 1:24 am - Reply

    Hi, my website also suffered a heavy drop of visitors starting just the day Google Instant released. My visits went down about 60%, since it was getting most of the visits from long tail searches.
    A little time ago, everyone was suggesting optimizing for long tail. Now what do we do with all those pages?

  20. Kimi September 28, 2010 at 9:07 am - Reply

    Hey Justin,

    Is it caused by your domain URL prefix? because this happened to me as well, as i changed my blog from non-www to www half a year ago, i lost all my backlinks, PR, and traffics, i had to rebuild it again.

    I noticed you changed from to

    • dragonblogger September 29, 2010 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      I have always been never, not in two years.

  21. Simon March 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Another problem is that Instant suggestion results change over time. So it can hit you also in the future. For example, I was on 1. position in SERP and suddenly I was only on 10% of traffic for a given keyword. I suspect that Instant is the cause of that. Namely a suggestion in Instant results are now showing other keyword before mine. And some of them are also longer !!! Like for example added year after keyword (shiny search 2011). I will try to add a year in Title and description to see if this helps.

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