Google Instant & What it Means for SEO

Category: SaaS Management

You may have heard buzz about the new Google search, called Google Instant, launched in early September of 2010. What is Google Instant? It’s Google’s new, quicker way of providing search engine users with results. This new search engine displays your results as you are typing, so you don’t even have to hit the search button.

Say you’re searching for “grocery store.” Once you type in “g,” Google will begin predicting what you are looking for, giving you the top search term of “gmail,” displayed as grey text in the search box. But that’s not what we’re looking for, so keep typing.

“Gr” gives you the top predicted search of “Greyhound” and “Groupon.” Once you get to “groc,” you finally get some grocery search predictions, such as, “grocery coupons” and “grocery list.” According to Google, this is one of the many benefits you receive from using Google Instant – smarter predictions.

Perhaps, at first, you were only interested in “grocery store,” but now that you see “grocery coupons” in the search bar, you go ahead and look at those results instead. Why didn’t you think of getting coupons before you go grocery shopping? Well, thanks to Google Instant, you remembered and you didn’t even have to hit “search.”

Now comes the big debate. How is Google Instant going to affect SEO? Some critics say that Google Instant is an SEO killer, making it virtually obsolete. Others say that Instant won’t make that great of an impact in the SEO business. Let’s take a look at both sides.

Google Instant: The SEO Killer
Now that search engine users display results immediately after typing in the first letter of a search, it’s going to be difficult to get people to actually finish a complete search. The problem here is trying to find a way to get to the top of the results page for fragments of words.

Even more so, searchers are going to be using less keywords now. If they only have to type in “grocery” to get “grocery coupons,” is there even a point of having coupon as a keyword now? Or will it be more efficient to only have one word keywords?

Google Instant’s predicted results also give searchers a lot more distractions. Like I said in my example, I was looking for a grocery store, but I got distracted by coupons. If a searcher sees something they might be interested in, they may refine their search and never get to your Website.

The use of Google Instant is going to start changing the way people search and the way they interact with search engines. Optimizers need to keep this in mind when employing SEO. If your audience’s behaviors are changing, you need to adapt to them.

Google Instant: SEO’s New Colleague
On the other hand, there are those who believe that Google Instant will not have that great of an influence on SEO. Yes, Google’s predicted search terms are personalized, however, that’s it. The instant results you receive are the same ones everyone will see. Although you can tweak your searches based on the results being displayed, the results will still be the same for everyone.

Google also claims that the instant results have no effect on rankings. Your Website will still show up where it would when searching for the complete term. There is a difference between “predicted queries” and “actual searches.” Google’s predictions for “groc” come up with grocery results. However, if you actually search for “groc,” you get different results.

Many people also argue that Google Instant isn’t providing them with something they need. A large majority of people are looking for relevancy more than speed. If the results are not even close to what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you’re still going to type in the full search term you would have used in the first place.

What Do You Think?
For SEO overall, Google Instant claims to have no effect on search engine rankings; it will change the way people search, but SEO is still important. Optimizers will have to change the way they use SEO, but it’s not completely gone. Do you think this is true?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think. Is Google Instant the SEO killer or is it SEO’s new colleague?

Recommended Further Reading