Google Instant … the latest and greatest in search that promises to lower your search time while providing predicted queries with instant search results.In other words, Google just became psychic.
Innovative, intriguing and useful. As we yearn for more time in our day and when we find ourselves searching for something, we want it quickly but without sacrificing time for quality. Google Instant is, on the surface, all the answer to this but it is also raising some eyebrows once you really get into the weeds for different search terms.
- Will my rankings remain the same?
- Will searchers confide in the predicted queries and results and not query further, scroll further down the page or even to page 2 to find me?
- Did they ever though?
Google Instant and Its Impact on Rankings
The impact upon rankings thus far seem to be an SEO train wreck as previously searches were user dictated but now Google suggests or dictates them in the way they predict what you are searching for. With each letter of your query that you type, not only does the query prediction change, the results change.
Optimizing your site or blog in the simplest form was to match user generated queries. Many were trying to optimize for the same terms but yet said a bit differently or even misspelled and that was what pushed the rankings, backlinks, queries, etc.
Google Instant is changing that as now they are prompting users with search queries and results that are now making us transform our way of thinking and ignore the previous search data that we used to figure out how Google will let us be found.
This is very powerful from an SEO standpoint as how can we guess what Google will be suggesting to users that will allow us to be found?
Is the Death of ‘Long Tail Search Phrases’ Imminent?
For many, the competition for popular keywords is out of reach and we know that users don’t search one word and expect exact results. No, this one word was broad and yielded broad results that sometimes did prompt a new search query as it narrowed it down to a specific focus for the user. This was especially popular with search queries such as “how do I…” or “what is the best way to…”
Now with Google Instant, as we are typing each letter we are being prompted with a query and search results. The query for how do I, promoted “tie a tie;” and, while, for the company that optimized for that, they are singing the praises of Google Instant but that is so far from my search query (as I already know how to tie a tie), I was searching for “how do optimize for Google Instant.”
I was actually a bit distracted with the results. With each letter that I typed, I felt like I was in a conversation where I was unable to finish a question without someone chiming in with an answer … that somewhat answers our question. For the user this may or may not be satisfying but for the companies whom where ranking organically the long tail, they are going to feel the pinch.
Google Instant and Its Impact On Local Search
Local Search was what has enticed small businesses to come aboard with optimizing their site. They could claim their location on Google Places and that would allow them to gain awareness without optimizing the city location. So far that has worked well but now Google Instant seems to be changing that.
It is, in many circumstances providing search results that are not consistent with the location of the searcher. I performed numerous searches for which I was seeking local only results. On Tuesday, my search results for certain terms only provided local companies (minus the paid national companies) but on Wednesday with the launch of Google Instant, suddenly national companies who may or may not have a presence in my hometown of Las Vegas were ranking above the locals.
Interestingly enough, Google Instant prompted the city location as a query prediction. This is a bit alarming as do we need to go back to searching with a location? I thought that Google knew where we were. Hmh.
Google Instant appears to be an SEO train wreck as each letter yields different results for each user. Unless the users are typing the same sequence of letters, the search results will be different.
The same can be said for Google Classic as each user was creating a different query, however, we know a little bit more as through our stats, we analyzed the search queries users entered to find us. Armed with this information, we have to be a bit on the edge of our seats as Google Instant is enticing the user to pick from their suggestions. Hey, it is Google. They must know what I am thinking. Rather than allowing users to tell Google what they’re thinking. This may be a situation where faster is not always better.
What has your experience been with Google Instant? Is it too early to tell the impact upon your rankings and your SEO strategies?
Note from Nicholas Cardot: Here’s a great article expressing an opposing view. Danny Sullivan believes that SEO is here to stay…It will never die.