The long tails will definitely be affected. Though I see some ways that you may be able to break into a niche by looking for auto suggest terms that don't have a lot of competition.
I was wondering what people thought of the recent changes to Google. These changes are outlined here: Official Google Blog: Search: now faster than the speed of type
Essentially Google shows results for keywords as you type them instead of bringing results after you submit the search.
I think that long tails will be affected the most. As someone would normally type 4-5 words in they will see results for the first two keywords instead of finishing typing. This will definitely make some of the more competitive niches a lot harder to break into.
What are your thoughts on this?
That's definitely an interesting way to look at it.
Crap, this certainly is a long tail killer after the mayday update.
Looks like it's time to target the single worded keywords that will rake in much more traffic once this thing starts picking up.
One more thing, depending on people's screen resolution you will be able to see just 'x' number of results.
For me, using Google Instant, i don't see more than 4 results in the SERPs at a time while i'm typing my resolution being 1366x768.
Videos and Sitelinks in the SERPs take up twice as much space as a normal result.
So, if you happen to target a 2-worded or single worded keyword which has many long tail variations, you need to be in the top 3 spots to expect the Benefits from Google instant.
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I wonder what's the percentage of people that actually go to Google.com instead of using the Toolbar's (firefox, G toolbar, etc) search option.
Do you guys have any clue?
That said, I think google suggest had a bigger impact, but this too will reduce the number of "long tail" or unique searches.
I don't expect a huge effect, but more minor... IMHO.
You have to have a fast internet connection in order to use it, so many people will still be left out.
On the SEO side, though, there's not really much you need to do except make sure you target the keyword suggestions (Autocomplete) that Google gives.