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Google Instant: Advertising on Partially Spelled Keywords

Search marketers have been speculating as to what effect Google Instant will have on their SEM and SEO campaigns. The new interface, which Google launched at the beginning of September, predicts a user’s query as they type, while showing instantly updated search results. According to Google’s official blog post [1] on the subject, the goal in providing users with more “immediate feedback” is to enable them “ to refine their searches more quickly and find the results that more precisely match what they need.”

The blog post continues on to describe the three core features of Google Instant as:

Countless predictions have been made as to how Google Instant will effect SEO, SEM, mobile search, search volume and usability. Of these predictions the one that stands out as important (and obvious) is the increase of impression volume. Once an easily defined metric within search marketing, an ‘ad impression’ has been complicated by instant search.

As The Search Agency explains in our recent white paper “Google Instant: Impact on SEM and SEO,” [2] “With a new search results page appearing with every keystroke, the concept of an “ad impression” required a new definition.  Now, Google counts an ad impression when a user does one of the following things:


Since Google counts the impression if the user presses Enter or stops typing after three seconds, we were concerned about the possibility of increased ad impressions (and clicks) based on the search results that would display when partially spelled keywords were typed in by the user. We decided to run a test on one of our accounts advertising vacations in Cancun. We added the following partially spelled keywords on exact match to measure impression, click, and conversion volume:


Cancun v

Cancun va

Cancun vac

Cancun vacat

Cancun vacati

Cancun vacation

After collecting about 3 weeks of data, the results have been inconclusive. The partially spelled keywords received less than 10 impressions each with no clicks or conversions attributed to them. For now, it looks like non-brand related keywords may not be impacted by Google Instant. However, it is possible that more Brand related keywords may receive different results from Google Instant.

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About Ben Pablo

Ben has over 5 years of online marketing experience and 10 years of editorial experience. He has previously worked for Business.com as an online optimization specialist and at PR Newswire as an assistant editor. Ben holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Recording and Music from California State University, Dominguez Hills.