Earlier this fall, Google unleashed Google Instant – a powerful, faster way to do online searches. When typing in a search query into Google.com, your search results actually start to appear in real-time below the search box well before you hit “Enter”. Google predicts what it is you’re looking for and offers you helpful suggestions, based on your past history, search term popularity and a bunch of other secretive algorithms protected by the Google code of silence. The goal is to provide people with quicker search experiences, pointing them to the best spots on the web in less time.
The Impact of Google Instant on Search
Google Instant reduces search times by 2-5 seconds. This means people find results they want faster. As a website owner, if you are optimizing your website for long keyword phrases, the odds of a user completing your search term is significantly reduced.
Look at how much adding 1 letter instantly changed the results!
In a Nutshell
The main impacts of Google Instant:
- Average search time is reduced by 2-5 seconds
- It’s easier to modify searches by typing one more letter than by scrolling down
- The Instant search window reduces how many results show “above the fold”
- Personalization and localized terms are promoted
Top Ranking is More Important than Ever
Users are less likely to scroll below “the fold” when doing a search. If you’re already pulling in lots of traffic for your keywords, you’ll probably pull in even more, from the swarms of people who would normally be typing out full searches only to stop in their tracks when your site appears with their relevant search terms. So the big guys will be collecting even more traffic.
Those who have the first few positions in organic searches will get the most clicks, as there’s even less of an incentive for someone to scroll down or click to the 2nd page of a search result.
Things to Consider:
- Market research. Compose a list of your top keywords. Start typing them in a search, and notice where your site comes up when just the first few letters are entered. Get ideas on new areas to focus your SEO.
- Brush up your on-site SEO to make sure you’re taking full advantage of your keyword opportunities. Use the website builder to easily update your content.
- Take note of the auto-complete suggestions (the light text that gets “suggested” to the end of your searches). This is what Google is suggesting to searchers, and is a good opportunity to search for new phrases based on what Google’s recommending.
- Add a “call to action” to the Title of your website. Lots of people reserve this for the little snippets of text that appear below titles in search results, but now users are spending even less time examining the results of a search. You’ve got to grab their attention even faster now.
- Use Google Analytics to monitor user behavior, as it has adapted to the changes presented by Google Instant. If after a month the performance of your long-tail keywords decline, you know you’ve got to adjust your long-tail SEO tactics.
The End of SEO?
When Google Instant was released, the SEO community buzzed with questions. How will it affect organic searches? Many wondered if it meant the end of SEO. After all, finding what you’re looking for is now so much easier so you’re not likely to settle for what you see just based on your search terms.
However, while it is much easier to find the answers to a search, the market searching for the answer has not changed at all. People still rely on Google to find answers. Until that stops being the case, SEO is here to stay.
For more info, check out the Google Instant FAQ.