Why Google Instant Might be a Game Changer for Domain Investors

Google is in the process of rolling out its real time search functionality, now known as Google Instant. While the company previously made search suggestions as you type, Google Instant goes a step further and begins showing actual results before you finish with your search.

I’ve been playing around with it, and my immediate thought is that this could impact domain investors, especially those who develop. If Google is predicting your search before you’re finished typing it, people will probably be less likely to finish longer tail searches, which helped produce traffic for developed, long tail keyword domain names. For instance, if yo are looking for “debt management tips,” you may stop typing at “debt management” after seeing some interesting results, and if my site ranks well for “debt management tips” but not the more general term, I will be pretty much SOL.

This does bode very well for short, exact match keyword domain names that rank well in Google for those keywords, but it can also be problematic for some. I know this is contradictory, but let’s use my example below.

DogWalker.com ranks #1 in Google for “dog walker,” #2 for “dog walkers,” and in the last week, dropped out of the top 10 for “dog walking.” If someone is searching for a dog walker, they may actually stop at “dog walk” when the results begin appearing. Despite great rankings for the exact match keyword domain names, DogWalker.com does not rank in the top 3 (see screenshot):

Google Instant Search

It’s way too early to predict how search habits will change, but if they do change, it could have a big impact on domain investors and the domain names they buy.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Elliot, I fully agree that Google’s update – which is not revolutionary in terms of technology but rather, as an adoption thereof – will affect how searches are targeted. I also noticed that some live searches break up after a while: one might give up searching for the terms instead of hitting Enter when no results come up (but results do appear if they continue with their typing and hit Enter).

  2. At the end of the day better content and RELEVANT backlinks will always win no matter what Google does as these 2 factors are the biggest factors to quantify sites as more relevant.

    This really isn’t that big a of change – I’ve seen this suggestion box around for well over a year.

  3. Plus honestly – most people cant spell nor have the multi-taking ability to look at search results as they change. They will still go after the short or long tail keywords they want.

  4. @ Alan

    With the suggestion feature, I would just click the term I was searching, so if I wanted to search for dog walker, I would have clicked that. However, with the new instant search, when you get to “dog walk” you can see relevant results, and you might forego your search. It could be worse for the guy who owns a name like BostonDogWalker.com and people stop typing mid way through, as he is likely to rank only on the long tail.

  5. Elliot,

    I really do not see most of society smart enough to type a word without pressing enter.

    We are trained to press enter after every search for anything, anywhere. What Google is asking people to do is type in half a word, look at results, maybe type in a few more lettters and look at more then press enter when the time is right.

    Honestly – have you even been to the DMV … these people represent most of the world with computers.

    I think its brilliant what Google has done but at the end of the day is only going to make search faster for a small percentage of people. No different than Google Chrome in many ways, wasn’t a game changer then and still isn’t now.

    However it is a cool feature to people with some kind of decent internet IQ but thats far less than people think.

  6. Here’s something interesting.

    What if you were to register “DogWal.com” like an incomplete spelling of words “Dog Walkers” for domain names.

    What if you optimize the site for “Dog Wal”.

    Does anybody think that if someone slowly types out Dog Walker but ends on the “l” without “kers” on the end of the word, that for an instant you’d be ranked at the top for “Dog Wal”?

    For that split second your result would be relevant for “dog walkers” if they were to actually read whats there…

    Interesting possibilities…

    Does that mean we have another massive wave of domains thats gonna be registered with incomplete words of the top keywords?


  7. @ John

    I don’t think it would be worth the time or effort. The one thing I noticed with this one example is that my site does not rank #1 unless the person spells it out completely. If people do begin using partial searches, it will be impactful. I happen to be a quick typer, but I would bet the majority of people using Google are slow peckers, and this could also affect things.

    I am not going to make any predictions about impact an hour into the launch of the service. I actually find it fairly annoying and will probably turn it off after exploring.

    Regarding incomplete top words, I am sure there are plenty of those registered, but as a domain investor, I wouldn’t invest in them. I don’t have the desire or time to spend optimizing them, and I don’t think they’d be worth much on their own unless they get natural traffic.

  8. Google has some interesting insight regarding organic keywords:


    “Today, we announced the launch of Google Instant, a new Google.com interface that shows relevant results while the user types. This exciting new search interface applies to both search results and related ads. We expect Google Instant will help users find what they’re looking for faster. With this change, you might notice some fluctuations in AdWords impression volume and traffic for organic keywords. For example, you may find that certain keywords receive significantly more or fewer impressions moving forward.”

  9. I suppose time will tell how much of an impact there is on search volume for particular phrases. However, recall that many .COM domain buyers don’t always focus on how much search volume there is related to a particular phrase but just want a domain for their business website. So if the GAKT search volume for a long-tail term drops 12%, will this really change the buyer’s view when they probably don’t even know what GAKT stands for.

  10. @Alan “”I really do not see most of society smart enough to type a word without pressing enter.”

    :O Are you serious? Society at large is lazy, and full of slow typers (hence the domainer longtime chant ‘short is better’!). I’d give odds on whether society at large would ‘pick a result’ over ‘typing in the full query’! Heck I do it now, and I bet most do it in their search history results, rather than retype the same visited website names in time after time. I think this could be probmatic to some domainers/endusers sites, but it also could lead to a ‘favortism appearances’ for the sites that are more SEO’d/developed out than others, and I’d bet a lot of ranting at Google for such. Could be an interesting change, especially if other SE’s incorporate it too.

  11. Kevin my point is its too confusing for the average person. You type in one letter and get one set of results, another letter, another set.

    The easiest thing to do is simply type a word (typo, short etcc) and press enter.

    The enter key is the lazy part – making users look and compare results is wayyy to freaking hard for most people.

  12. As soon as you type any word beginning with “a” amazon gets the main billing followed by aol att apple etc. It is a complete traffic boom for these companies. Google are putting these companies first and really all that is going to happen is large companies will get many more searches at a cost we must presume to some smaller lesser known sites.

  13. Elliot, I wouldn’t invest in partial words either. I do alot of novel research/experiments online with test sites, not much development. It was just a thought.

  14. With the suggestion box taking up more space at the top it pushes the organic results even farther down the page.

    Try “new york dog walkers”!

    With the suggestion box, sponsored links, and local business results it make ranking irrelevant.

  15. This post makes me wish I hadn’t sold DogWalking.com years back for too cheap I am sure.

    Actually I wish I had all the domains I have sold over the years. And here I go again – selling another domain today.

  16. @Alan

    All due respect but I think you are completely underestimating the intelligence of the masses and human natures ability to adapt to change.

  17. Instant = Chrome = never type-in full names really

    Unless you are looking for obscurity..

    Gee, I wonder if that will affect type-ins..

    I’m thinking yes

  18. Wayne

    Lets agree to disagree. Some things people change sure but you are asking people to multi-task to compare results

    When an easier solution is presented — the old solution, type in a word and press enter then the easier one will almost always prevail.

    We are a lazier society every day … This makes searching faster however comparing search results as some people are discussing is not a feature of this many people will use – thats my point.

  19. I guess it’s not very important to users (to me actually) which legitimate website comes first but I would hate to see domain parkers or outright cybersquatters benefit from instant search results.

  20. @John,

    My thoughts exactly. 🙂 As you would expect, Google is anticipating the completion of the word being typed and therefore is leaving dogwal.com out of the running. Interesting extension of the thought process though.

  21. I am conflicted as to how this is really a benefit, I think if anything it probably leads to more searches rather than fewer and will be quite confusing to most people there first few hundred times, plus if you are typing and think the auto fill search is working and press enter, you dont get your full string and then google shows you a showng results for link

    If I were a betting man, my only focus would be in optimizing for the mobile experience, not sure why google is rolling this out, dont see any real value to the end user…should the search be about getting right versus getting it fast

  22. Personally I don´t really like the whole thing so far, but I guess time will tell.

    The adult keywords would not show up it seem.
    If you for example type “lesbian” and stop before hitting enter. You will see a blank page as a google result. Actually it will not show anything as you type “lesb”. If you type “adult” or “nudist”….same there….no results. However, you can type in “breast” and you get results.

    I have been trying a few other keywords and it is interesting to see what shows up and not.

  23. I was playing around with this a bit. If you type o into the search bar, it now shows Orbitz in the top two position one as a sponsored link and the other is their site.
    Same with Ikea, if you type in i into the browser, it shows ikea in the top two positions.
    So is google now giving more weight to the bigger advertisers.

    Seems like a bit of a joke to me.

  24. Google by no means is not a friend of ours.

    Just wait until they really start going hard on lead generation , what impacts this will have on geo.com names and etc. I love geo I try to keep an open mind and risk factors. I’m still bullish on geo.com and with hype sales on .co just means more traffic to geo .com names.

    Also instead of PPC for domainers wait until google says to us well instead of getting paid per click what about payment as a lead and if the clicker purchased something from our PPC site

    So many risk factors and I’m also seeing more mom and pop outfits advertising facebook urls and social web interaction. Not saying facebook will impact our domain names and its to early but we need mom and pop outfits to flip things too.

    Scary times for all of us. Cash is king. Double dip recession here we come.

  25. This will not change anything for me nor for the 90% web morrons that like me look at their keyboard while writting and only look the screen when they have finished to type the keyword to search. So no worries!

  26. I really don’t like the way this new version performs. It clearly gives a huge advantage to major sites and short words and will impact traffic for many.

    I also don’t like it visually and seeing the results constantly changing as you type.

    Good thing is you can go into your search settings and Google was kind enough to let you DISABLE INSTANT, which I’ve done.

    If Google keeps heading in the direction they are with so much constant change and diversification into so many products, I think they are going to make themselves vulnerable to a new search engine startup that will appear one day with something cooler and scoop up their market share like crazy. No matter how huge a company is we’ve seen this happen many times.

    Don’t change what’s been working perfectly Google!!!!

  27. Google by no means is not a friend of ours.

    Just wait until they really start going hard on lead generation , what impacts this will have on geo.com names and etc. I love geo I try to keep an open mind and risk factors. I’m still bullish on geo.com and with hype sales on .co just means more traffic to geo .com names.

    Also instead of PPC for domainers wait until google says to us well instead of getting paid per click what about payment as a lead and if the clicker purchased something from our PPC site

    So many risk factors and I’m also seeing more mom and pop outfits advertising facebook urls and social web interaction. Not saying facebook will impact our domain names and its to early but we need mom and pop outfits to flip things too.

    Scary times for all of us. Cash is king. Double dip recession here we come.

  28. If someone is looking for dog walker, they will search for those exact terms. I don’t think they will narrow their search unless they’re frustrated with trying to locate a certain product or service.

    The search suggestion will actually help out many domain investors that own exact keyword matches. Any products and services that target a mass audience are usually better with the plural, but the singular is also a good choice.

    If the keywords are popular enough, they will show up at the top of the search suggestion list.

  29. I agree with Elliot. The domains with “long tail” might suffer and now I would be less likely to buy “long tail” domains.

    • @ “Insurance”

      Out of curiosity, why do you post as “insurance” when this is blog has “no follow” attributes, and people reading it might consider what you say “blog spam” as a result? I can see a reason to do anchor text type of comments on a related post (like “Domain Newsletter” or something like that on a domain blog) but I don’t understand doing it on an unrelated website. Just curious.

  30. Yes i gone more to extact domains my buys:


    and started to develop them only week ago,
    they are starting to rank

  31. Cool..elliot you bring in some good news…now i am going to develope my domains!!

    Also i need to ask you smthing… i bought cashparking.co , and i see that all .com .in .tv etc are owned by godaddy…so can i still develope my domain parking business on that name?
    or will this bring me legal hassels?

  32. @Mark,

    I would only regret selling a domain if it becomes extremely valuable later. In contrast, the company that acquires a domain has to put in a lot of work to increase the value.

    And if you’re into domaining, I find that selling potentially valuable domains doesn’t affect me. I still think there’s a small market for typing in the product or service in the address bar. Always buy the .com, unless you fine a great deal on the other extensions.

    I think the keyword prediction will make many domains even more valuable. You can mention that various keywords show up high on the suggestion search results.

    If I’m looking for “credit monitoring services,” I won’t stop at credit or credit monitoring because then I’ll waste time searching several Google pages to look for what I need.

    Most people are looking to save time. The keyword suggestion is a valuable feature, especially when you own domains with keywords that head the list.

  33. The new keyword prediction is similar to what the Iphone uses. When the words are predicted wrong, I delete them and input them again.

    The best strategy to determing whether the change will affect your domains is to monitor traffic on your high traffic sites. I dint see sites like DogWalker.com losing traffic. When I visit this blog, I usually type in Elliot in my search bar. The exact link shows up.

    Once people become familiar with a website, they tend to type in the address. Yesterday, I was looking for a manual. I kept searching using different keyword variations. The same thing happens when I’m trying to look for specific information.

    If someone is looking for a dog walker or dog walkers, I doubt they’ll choose the dog walk or dog walking suggestion. Dog walking seems more like a source for information than an actual service.

  34. i think that time is the best judge and for the people lucky enough to have really nice names with relevant content im sure will benefit.

    hopefully more will develop and put these names to use rather than yet another parked domain.

    im pretty biased as i come from a web dev background and i hope i can do better with these changes (no weekends for chris now)

    but im wondering about the extensions for ccTLD’s as there quite a few nice names still around if your prepared to sacrifice a few beers and take the gamble

    nice names and i hope google instant brings you luck
    (no weekends for you too)

    thanks elliot for you time to write this

  35. At the end of the day Google are in the business of giving users the most relevant search results.

    I’m sure Google will have put in place monitoring to detect when Instant results appear to give searchers a better outcome (bounce rates, re-searches etc).. and when they don’t. eg when users reject Instant results in favour of the search results for a longer tail term.

    One possible side effect of this might be that in time Google decides to increase the weighting for smaller sites in its longer tail results – reasoning that the big boys have had their chance earlier in the search and been rejected.

    Another possible side effect of the Instant roll out is that searchers might in time become even more specific about what they search for in order to bypass the large sites susggested.

    And another possible outcome is that people may learn to place search terms in a different order so as to influence how quickly the right Instant Search result shows.

    Interesting stuff for domain owners.

  36. To me, it’s a distraction and a waste of bandwidth.

    I really like the search suggestions, but I wish it was a longer list. And I wouldn’t mind it too much if I start typing and then pause and they show we results for what I have typed at that point. Then I can decide to use the results or type more to refine it.

    But I don’t think this solution is much help with the main problem, and that is people don’t know how to search. Most of you reading this know how to use quotes, but do you ever go beyond that with what is available? Most of the time i don’t and and/or/not/nor is not part of a foreign language vocabulary for me.

    But the point about changing what people find when searching is VERY intersting. And the idea of owning dogwal.com is too, but while it may work, the question is will someone click on “dogwal” or Dog Wal” and I think not. But “Dog Wal Mart” might get some clicks if you want to trademark squat. 🙂

  37. Chicken Little,

    Everybody take a deep breath. The sky is not falling.

    #1. Google Instant only works if you are signed in to a Google account

    #2 Google Instant only works from Google home page.

    That means the number of people who will actually USE or SEE this is extremely small.

    The SEO, SEM, IM, PPC and Domain industries have got EACH OTHER freaked out, but few people outside our industries will even see implementation.

    Just keep producing good content and good links and you will be rewarded.

    Jay Lohmann

  38. @Elliot

    I’m sure it will, but there is WAY too much energy being spent on this from people who dont understand it and causing “panic” in the streets. 🙂 I even saw a tweet this AM from @TechCrunch who says we need to start optimizing for two-letter combos within the word…

    Really? WTF?

    Has anyone actually used Instant. See the ghosted white type in the box. same query as if you had finished it yourself. Google is just trying to get you there faster.

    The database of results in Google has not been changed.

    The algos have not been changed (because of Google Instant)

    Only the pathway to the results has been changed.

    I saw your post on losing rank for a particular KP. As is typical with Google, they use long weekends like Labor Day when search traffic is down to test out semi-significant algo changes. I saw lots of movement both ways last weekend. That had nothing to do with Google Instant. Two completely different departments at Google HQ.

  39. @Elliot

    i totally agree with what your saying, we have a new shiny toy to play with and alot of villagers are scared of progress.

    evolution is a good thing and keeps people on their toes instead of just taking things for granted.

    one thing that will come from this is a mad rush to buy new domains.

    lets see when the dust settles and adapt if needed

  40. “#1. Google Instant only works if you are signed in to a Google account”

    Well, based on my current experience, this is untrue.

    – I tried instant, then turned it off (I thought).
    – I closed my browser.
    – I restarted my browser.
    – I went to Google.com and typed in a character.
    – I then saw the fist page of resuts from instant.
    – I was not logged in.

    I have now removed using instant from my preferances so I don’t expect it to return, but when I turn off a light, I don’t expect to return to the room at a later point and find that the light has turned itself on again…

  41. @Chris

    That is Google being invasive again….just like when personalized search wasnt supposed to work if not logged out, but it did anyway. Big Brother doing evil.

    I know most of us in here are “industry types”, but does anyone out there NOT HAVE or NEVER HAD a Google account. Would be interested to see what shows up on Google Homepage search for you.

    Might be Google Instant only works if you NEVER HAD an account.


  42. @jay /lead directories

    how would a typo domainer be concern about this when all of my typo income is generated by all type inn traffic? 100 percent.. no search engine traffic.. no real time search. people typing inn the url ..

  43. It looks from your post like the instant search results also affect what google displays in paid search. That could make some difference in terms of what keywords to bid on. It might open the door to some creative bidding. Instead of “trademark attorneys,” maybe I should be bidding on “trade.”

    What if I’m a competitor of Travelocity and I bid on Travel? Seems okay, right? We’re both in the travel business, but I might be able to scoop up some people who otherwise would have gone to Travelocity. What about a competitor of Microsoft bidding on the word “micro?” It’s not bidding on a trademark, but it is using Google to get to customers who are looking for Microsoft and divert them to my ad.

  44. I tried the instant search and my thought is that it’s useless. It gets in the way, your typing actually becomes slower as it processes the searches. So for people who type faster, this has the opposite effect.

    and then for those who type slower, they are most likely looking down on the keyboard keys then on the screen. So what’s the point? sure it’ll be usefull for some, but as people learn typing, this will slow them down and don’t think it’ll be enabled by default for this reason.


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