Why I Think Google Instant Search Is Bad For Generics and Why Longtails Could Win

This is one of those posts that I know is going to ruffle some feathers the moment I start writing it, see – I’m thinking about it right now. So let me start by saying, this is total speculation, we have no data or no reason to think that anything I’m saying in this post is true or will ever be true. This is a blog, and as such, I like to share my opinions – so here we go!

So I’ve been using Google Instant search heavily since it was released. I’ve found it changes the way in which I search. Now, when I’m searching I find myself picking the first or second option in the drop-down list – it’s usually exactly or very close to what I’m looking for. In some cases when I would normally search for something like “cars” I now see “cars for sale” and think, hmmm, that seems more specifically what I’m looking for – I’ll pick that. Or suppose I’m looking for a current mortgage rages, I type “mortgage” into Google and quickly see “mortgage calculator” and “mortgage rates” are right there. When I type in “domain names” I get “domain names for sale” as the second option in the drop-down list.

Instant SearchWhy is “Find a Grave” the top choice when I type “Find a”?

These are all small examples of what I think represents a potential major win for longtails, and a challenge for generics. Now remember, this is just speculation, no fact here, and definitely no right or wrong answer – just opinion! I think that people that normally search for generic words will now see the list of long-tails and go one level deeper. This gives them a more specific list of sites and gives a huge advantage to owners of long-tail domains that exactly match the search string. Is it possible that in the future a domain like CarsForSale.com could be worth more than Cars.com? Haha – probably not, but a fundamental shift in search behavior is likely happening right now.

I’m not trying to ring the alarm here in any way, but instead, as someone that monitors search very closely I think it is important for us to all realize that something BIG could be happening here. At the end of the day Domaining is not about domains, it’s about traffic. Google is the largest controller of traffic in the world with Bing not too far behind at 38% now. The point is, the money is where the traffic is, so following that traffic is essential for Domainers, Affiliate Marketers, and really anyone that makes money online.

Okay, now it’s your turn to let me have it! What’s your opinion? Think I’ve gone crazy? Agree? Disagree? Share your opinion and let your voice be heard!
(Please remember my disclaimer from above, this is just speculation and should not be taken as a prediction or a warning.)

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • John Dodsley September 17, 2010, 1:41 pm

    Hej Morgan,
    I just think it’s good that you’re writing what you think, as opposed to popular opinion/speculation. A kindred spirit, thanks.

    John.

    Reply
    • Morgan September 17, 2010, 1:42 pm

      Thanks @John – I appreciate it! I’ll always say what I feel whether I think everyone wants to hear it or not 🙂

      Reply
  • jake September 17, 2010, 2:43 pm

    I think your speculations are legit, now let’s take it a step forward and speculate on what will happen when Google starts using voice activated search? Hmmm…….
    Now we got problems.

    Reply
    • Morgan September 17, 2010, 2:46 pm

      @Jake – not a bad point but still far in the future. However I think we all know that 50 years from now kids will look at keyboards in museums and say, “so you had to push your fingers on those buttons to write?”

      Heck when I was in school we used pencils and I owned a pencil sharpener. The only time I use a pencil now is when I play golf 🙂

      Reply
  • jake September 17, 2010, 2:58 pm

    Thats so true Morgan. But I heard that Apple brought Siri the Concierge Service that lets you type or speak your request, so it knid of like they are about to amp- up there voice technology soon.

    Reply
  • Deke September 17, 2010, 4:24 pm

    This started happening years ago even without Google Instant. Folks have been moving their searches to long tail generic domains b/c it gets them the info. faster.

    You can search for Fishing and go to Fishing.com, but why do that when most fisherman are looking for something WAY beyond the almost idiotic basicness of a simple one word search. That is a search in frustration usually.

    All Google did was capitalize on what was already happening and presented the long tails as keywords.

    The traffic WILL continue to move to long tail, but if you want to build a really big business now or in the future then you need a domain with a broader scope….. like Fishing.com. If you want the traffic in the future, then you need to buy the long tail domains like IceFishing.com , BassFishing.com , FishingLures.com, MarlingFishing.com, etc….

    Regardless, both types, short and long tail will both be worth a lot of money for these different reasons.

    Regarding not using keyboards, I read a study where in Japan the kids are already forgetting how to write certain Japanese characters since they use their cell phones so much. It’s a new phenomenon and there is a name for the condition already ( I forgot what the name is), since so many young folks are forgetting how to write. They say they have trouble picturing the characters in their head and therefore can’t write.

    Reply
  • jake September 17, 2010, 4:25 pm

    Oh! yeah and check out talkingdesktop.com

    Reply
  • Brian Hembree September 17, 2010, 4:51 pm

    I think you are right about the increased traffic for the top drop-down Google search results. We as domain investors need to track the traffic from some of these long-tails that currently don’t currently have much search traffic. As this new Google search changes the way people find what they’re looking for. We might see new traffic search data trends emerge. So the Adword keyword data next month might change dramatically from previous months. A domain that wasn’t valuable last month might be very valuable this month. New doors are opening and territories to be explored.

    Reply
  • Brian Hembree September 17, 2010, 5:02 pm

    I’m concerned about each Google user getting different search results. Is the drop-down suggestions for each search user different too? Does the drop-down suggestions in Google search vary due to being logged-in to Google? Will recent internet activity data begin to effect search results?

    Reply
  • zamaan September 17, 2010, 11:40 pm

    i think what he is telling is different (as i read roughly)
    http://acro.net/blog/2010/09/17/google-live-search-great-results-for-short-domains/

    he says short domains will have more power!

    Reply
  • Uzoma September 18, 2010, 2:53 am

    Jake, you may want to purchase my domain: Dictate.co
    It’s a winner for voice products and services for the future. If google goes ahead with your suggestion, I may up the price to the millions. This is the best to buy the thing from me 🙂

    Reply
  • Steroids UK September 18, 2010, 4:51 am

    I think carsforsale.com should be worth more than cars.com, time will tell.

    and btw thw 5 suggestions var from country to country and can change i think depending on how many clicks they do or don’t get.

    Reply
  • Logan September 18, 2010, 11:22 am

    One of my clients is one of the largest pizza chains in the world and is a big competitor to Pizza Hut. My client used to come up in first position when you typed in “pizza” in Google. Now, with Google Instant, you start to type in “piz…” and Pizza Hut shows up everywhere! Not good. Just goes to show you how arbitrary life — and revenue — can be when you depend on Google for business. Always remember: Google is just one tactic of many; optimizing for Google cannot be your sole strategy.

    Reply
  • Deke September 18, 2010, 12:28 pm

    This started happening years ago even without Google Instant. Folks have been moving their searches to long tail generic domains b/c it gets them the info. faster.

    You can search for Fishing and go to Fishing.com, but why do that when most fisherman are looking for something WAY beyond the almost idiotic basicness of a simple one word search. That is a search in frustration usually.

    All Google did was capitalize on what was already happening and presented the long tails as keywords.

    The traffic WILL continue to move to long tail, but if you want to build a really big business now or in the future then you need a domain with a broader scope….. like Fishing.com. If you want the traffic in the future, then you need to buy the long tail domains like IceFishing.com , BassFishing.com , FishingLures.com, MarlingFishing.com, etc….

    Regardless, both types, short and long tail will both be worth a lot of money for these different reasons.

    Regarding not using keyboards, I read a study where in Japan the kids are already forgetting how to write certain Japanese characters since they use their cell phones so much. It’s a new phenomenon and there is a name for the condition already ( I forgot what the name is), since so many young folks are forgetting how to write. They say they have trouble picturing the characters in their head and therefore can’t write.

    Reply
  • roddy September 18, 2010, 11:45 pm

    i think the tarffic for carsforsale.com should be better than cars.com if you are looking to buy a car , if you visit cars.com you may only gets reviews so i think the longer version is better if you are in fact looking for cars for sale

    Reply
  • Al September 19, 2010, 10:11 am

    Looks like Google Instant can also redistribute the value of single and plural versions of domain names in some cases. E.g. try to type “outdoor ta” – you’ll see just “outdoor tables” choice, and it will be at the top of the list. And in order to see “outdoor table” choice you’ll need to type the whole phrase, and it will appear only at the bottom. An interesting point is that “outdoor table” has 49,500 exact motnhly searches and “outdoor tables” just 18,100. Now outdoortables.com can become more valuable from the point of traffic than outdoortable.com. As I’ve noticed, the preference of singule or plural version varies for different phrases.

    Reply
  • Al September 20, 2010, 6:36 am

    Hm… Just thought that actually this feature isn’t related to Google Instant directly, drop-down list was available rather for a long time (without auto-completion though). And “outdoor table” single still has more search volume than plural. So, may be it just speaks for the fact that people just type the whole phrase generally instead of switching to another activity like selecting the proposed choice from the list or looking through the intermediate search results?

    Reply
  • 3ddi3 October 31, 2010, 3:38 am

    Let’s hope your speculation is right — this will create a lot of opportunities for the small players

    Reply

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