Google Instant Search: Do we need a new job?
Search Engine Optimisation

Google Instant Search: Do we need a new job?

10th September 2010

Two days ago Google announced “Instant Search”, which was made to optimize the searching habits of its users, but what does it really change – or maybe I should ask: will it change anything ?
At the moment, Google Instant Search is just available for users which have a Google account (we also successfully tested it without being logged on a few pcs which didn’t saw a Google account ever). Without any knowledge, how much people use a Google account, I’d say that the majority uses Google without being logged in – so actually the changes are not really of any interest. Since Google will enable Google Instant Search for all users after successful testing it, there could be some changes in the future.
Let’s have a look onto users without a Google account: in my eyes those persons have also another way of using the pc than we do. Most of them look onto their keyboard while writing and I think the majority also hits return when they typed in what they like to look for. That type of Google users won’t realize, that there’s something new. Some of those people will increase the impressions, because it takes them more than three seconds to find the next character on the keyboard – but I’ll describe that fact later in this article.
Another type of user will insert their search term and when he/she likes to check, if everything was written without any typos, he/she will see the SERPs and maybe will wondering how that works.

Both types are from not much interest, because those people will see the same results as they saw them with using Google / Google Suggest.
What about users, who look onto the monitor while writing or checking their writings after every keystroke / word ?
Those will instantly – that’s why it’s called Instant 🙂 – see the suggested SERPs, some will check them directly, others will finish typing what they like to search for, but the minority will go to the second page and a huge amount of people are going to start refining the search in hope to find that information he / she looks for.
That will lead into a huge increment of page impression, but how are they counted now ?

•    If the user hits the return button
•    If the user clicks anywhere on the page
•    If the user looks onto the same term for more than three seconds

Definitely the last point will lead to a huge amount of page impressions, because of the following usertypes:
•    persons, who are not able to find the next character within three seconds
•    and the upcoming majority: users, who refine their searches, when they didn’t find what they searched for on the first page (or maybe in the first few SERPs, which are displayed on their monitor)

What does Google Instant Search mean for PPC ?
Since more and more users will find out that Google Instant Search exists (when it’s released to the public), the page impressions will rapidly increase and the CTR will going down. I really hope Google learns out of the usage of the Google account owners and changes their page impression rules. As you know: a bad CTR leads to higher bids – which would be great for Google, but very bad for PPC.
Also John Ellis is afraid of growing spends on long-tailed AdWords bids and he will be proven right. The spendings will definitely increase, since the traffic will slowly going up on short-term keywords and – of course – decrease on longtails. Since Google Instant Search uses auto completion, users will start to click earlier onto the Ad Words ads. Of course, there will be still people who look for something special and they’ll still insert the complete longtail term – but – in my eyes – they’ll get the minority. So what will be best practice ? Use your Ad Words reports and try to figure out how your users are searching.

What does Google Instant Search mean for SEO ?
In my opinion Google Instant Search will change nothing for SEOs: It’s still important to optimize your pages in the way you’re able to. It won’t be possible to step on top in every SERP, but you’ll still be on top for keywords you were on top before. Google said they try to figure out, what the users are looking for – so they added the auto completion. It just helps the user, because he / she doesn’t need to insert the complete term. Since the auto completed term is shown in the searchbox, the user could decide, if it’s correct or not and put in some more characters until Google suggests the correct term.

So what will Google Instant Search mean for our job ? Actually nothing, we have to do our job as we did it before. Those who earn their money with doing some SEA stuff should start optimizing their keywords with looking through the AdWords reports – but I hope everybody of you already does that :). SEOs shouldn’t care much about that new feature. Do your job as you did before and try to optimize your pages to be on top, when Google starts to complete user’s input. Or to quote a great SEO, BrentDPayne: “Google Instant Search = Google Wave . . . Media circus of a product launch that won’t change a damn thing.”


Written By
Evert Veldhuijzen is consulting various international brands about different aspects of online marketing. His company Netlead is in affiliate business and develops websites for his joint-ventures.
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