A week after the launch of Google Instant, Conductor compared 880,000 visits from ten high traffic websites by search term length with the week prior to the Instant launch and showed "virtually no change in search traffic distribution". This week they posted results for the same test a month prior and following the instant launch and concluded once again that Google Instant has not changed searcher behavior. Their results stand in marked contrast to Marin's recent study which concludes that Google Instant has increased paid search clicks and changed searcher behavior.
Same Subject But Different Studies Looking at Different Things
However, both Marin and Conductor specialize in different fields, paid search and search engine optimization respectively, so their mileage may vary. In fact, both examine completely different aspects of the behavior change that Google Instant results potentially engender.
Conductor's study looks to answer the question of whether the instant suggestions are causing users to change how they search, examining whether suggestions change the types of keyword phrases used. Whereas Marin's study looks specifically at the impact on paid search clicks, conversion and spend as the instant interface seems to provide more screen real estate to paid search ads. The latter behavioral impact is something first identified by Aaron Wall, who recently argued that Google Profits Soar From Instant Search because the search suggestions push all results down and thereby generating more prominence of paid ads at the expense of the organic results.
Instant Interface Has No Significant Impact on Users
Nathan Safran, Senior Research Analyst at Conductor speaking about their test, which analyzed 2.7 million visits over the 6 week period, said, "If Instant was having a significant impact on searcher behavior we would expect to see long tail visits migrate up the head as searchers click on Instant results before they get to the end of their intended query." Yet, whilst they Safran saw slight increases in conversions and a slight increase in volume on three keyword long search phrases he noted that this was nothing out of the ordinary and part of the normal flux of search traffic distribution.