As you may have heard, Google recently launched a new feature it calls, “Google Instant,” which attempts to predict what you are searching for even before you finishing typing your query. As you enter your search term in Google’s search box, the search engine will return dynamic, real-time results right under the search box in a drop-down menu. Here’s how Google explains it:
Google Instant takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions—yielding a smarter and faster search that is interactive, predictable and powerful.
In the days following the launch of this new feature, SEO and tech blogs around the world began predicting the end of SEO as we know it. Many of the bloggers’ claims revolved around the idea that instead of finishing their search, users will simply select what Google has predicted and not actually complete their own search. And while this may be true in some cases where people really aren’t sure how to phrase what they’re looking for (only time and data will tell), the core objective behind SEO will not and should not change—to rank well for whatever relevant terms searchers are using to locate products and services such as those that your company offers. How is this achieved? Through a sound content strategy. Period.
What Google Instant is doing is providing a faster way to search. The results are still the same, just delivered differently. For example, when I begin a search for “health insurance” in Google, I start seeing “instant” results in the drop-down like those in the screen shot below.
As you can see, the most popular “instant” [search results] start with Florida, Jacksonville, etc. But, will ALL users see these same results? They will not and it’s because Google knows that I am in Jacksonville, FL—even when I am logged out with a clear web browser cache and no cookies. A test with several others in different states confirmed this—they too saw results for their city/state thanks to their IP address or that of their carrier. Scary? Not to me. It’s the focused results I want. And even if I live in Florida and want to search for health insurance for my grandmother in Texas, why would I ever click on a Florida link? I wouldn’t. And neither would any other logical person.
Google Instant will benefit SEO. Before the feature, people would search for something using keywords and phrases that they thought were best to find what they were looking for. When the same users landed on a [search results] page and didn’t find what they wanted in the first ten results or so, they’d search again. Now, instead of landing on the irrelevant [search results] page and having to search again, users will receive instant feedback letting them know that they haven’t been precise enough and thus they will continue typing until the “instant” results show them what they’re actually looking for. The great thing about this is that Google is actually teaching people how to better search for relevant content. And for any SEO firm worth a hoot, they’ll quickly realize that they must step-up and create more relevant content rather than rely on keywords alone.
For pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers, it could mean two things. First, fewer people will see your ads when you target shorter phrases… *IF* people end up taking advantage of Google Instant, that is, and continue typing until they see what they want in the drop-down list. Second, PPC advertisers will have to revisit the fact that they may not be making use of long-tail phrases (longer, less searched for phrases that, when combined, make up that vast majority of all searches) effectively as Google Instant will slowly begin to teach people that searchers get more relevant results when they type just a little bit more into the search box. On the other hand, this is GREAT for SEO because long-tail phrases are much easier to realistically include in website copy and content without making it sound ridiculous.
Google Instant isn’t the end of SEO—not even close. It’s simply another variable that SEO professionals must monitor and adjust to accordingly. As we repeat over and over here at Command SEO, content is the absolute most important factor when it comes to search engine optimization. If you rely solely on keywords, your SEO efforts will almost certainly fail you.
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