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As with all things Google, change has been afoot these recent weeks. As you perform your customary Google searches for everything from which supplier has the best bulk discounts for your business to what to cook for dinner, you will see new output. Traditionally, if you were signed into Google or had cookies enabled, as you typed into the search box you were delivered a selection of your previous searches that matched your quest. Google Instant has added a new dimension to this search.

Google Instant now offers up to 10 possible search results that may fit your search using an auto complete algorithm. As you type your search, Google Instant delivers results, changing the list as you complete more in the search box. The objective process involves Google using previous searches by other users. These search lists are updated frequently which allows up and coming searches to be included as they are happening. Additionally, if you are signed in, your previous searches will become part of the algorithm which means you may be offered your own previous searches.

How does Google Instant help me?

Basically it saves typing. You can start typing say, Taronga Z, when you get to Tarong you may get Tarong Energy and as you get to Taronga you will be offered Taronga Zoo and save a few keystrokes. Is this a help to you? Maybe, maybe not. If you come from the old school of being a typist, that benefit is irrelevant to you. However, a two finger staccato person may find it a huge boon.

You may hear a news item on the radio but miss the details, using Google Instant may be a great bonus as you can start with the basics you remember and if it is a rising search, it will be included in the predicted results.

As we said before, Google Instant includes your previous queries. If you are signed into Google with your web history enabled, you may be presented with your favourite searches in your list of suggestions. This can be a useful shortcut.

Potentially one of the most useful outcomes of Google Instant is the ability to pick up on your errors as you are typing. No longer do you have to put in your whole search, enter and wait for a ‘did you mean xyz’ before realising your mistake. Now you will be presented with more common spellings of the search the algorithm thinks you are trying to do. For example, search for the cricket legend Dennis Lillee, spelling it incorrectly Dennis Lily, and the correct spellings are offered in the list of 10 potential results.

Can there be Negatives to this Google Enhancement?

One of the objectives of Google Instant would appear to be to enable users to find their results faster, thus less typing, a quick click and they have their solution. One casualty of this new search may be the reduced use of long tail keyword phrases (or not, see ‘Potential Positives’). This can impact on your SEO constructions as all the work you put into long tail keyword phrases to attract highly motivated traffic may be lost as users can be basically lazy. The issue may be they will start typing their long search and as they are presented with responses, choose a much broader search term. This may not necessarily be where you want them to end up.

Technically, SEO is not impacted by Google Instant from the viewpoint of partial words becoming SEO keywords. This is not supposed to happen, however, as above, it may prove that broader search terms become more favourable from an SEO perspective even to reach highly qualified searchers.

Potential Positives

Whilst we have said that long tail keyword phrases may be left behind with the broad search results being offered, this may in fact be the exact opposite. As users realise the broader first offerings from their short searches result in time consuming checking and sifting to find exactly what they were after, they may return to highly targeted long tail keyword phrase queries. So Google Instant may actually benefit businesses who work with great copy and SEO.

Google Instant and SEO

Google have stated clearly that Google Instant will not impact on rankings in search results. This is the initial response and one that relates to the algorithms that create the rankings. However, the flow on effect of broader terms appearing first will no doubt elicit more clicks to these broader termed pages and thus improve their rankings organically. The jury is still out on how much impact this will have and it will depend on your perspective if this is a positive or negative.

Google Instant and Adwords

The effectiveness and cost of Google Adwords may be the main change involved with the addition of Google Instant. As your costs and responses are impacted by impressions, you may be interested to note from Google Instant how impressions counted:

  • When a user actively makes a selection of a query by clicking or hitting enter,
  • Clicks a link on their results page, or
  • Just stops typing for 3 seconds

This may mean you have a far greater ratio of impressions to click throughs, Google has acknowledged this may change the number of impressions you are currently seeing by some margin. This issue may mean that quality scores are heavily impacted which could mean a bonus to Google’s Adwords revenue but a reduction in results for advertisers. Google do go on to say though that the overall improvement for users being more directly connected to what they need will offset any issues with impression changes.

A final word

You decide – can you use it, do you like it, how may if affect your business? Each organisation will be impacted in a different way, and your response to Google Instant will determine how it ultimately will be received by you.

The most important factor always was and will continue to be keeping high quality content current on your site. By doing this and constantly monitoring how you are being interacted with from your users in Web-land will lead, as always, to your best outcomes.