Google Instant: What it Means for You and SEO

Google Instant: What it Means for You and SEO

Summary: Google Instant is a new feature rolled out by Google which is supposed to help make searching faster, more intelligent, and more accurate. Some say it's the death of SEO, others think it stresses the importance of SEO. Find out what Google Instant means for you and share your experiences!

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TOPICS: Google, Browser
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Since Google began rolling out Google Instant a week ago, the web has been dancing with all sorts of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) personalities coming out of the woodwork to claim everything from "the death of SEO" to "no impact on SEO whatsoever." The truth is more on the side of the latter, but we'll delve into that in a minute. If you're unfamiliar with Google Instant; in a nutshell, Google attempts to guess what you're searching for as you type your query into the search box. The result is a near-real-time return of search results while you're typing. Additionally, it provides a few suggestions in a drop-down box when you pause/stop typing (almost like Google Suggest did, but with far fewer suggestions now). So, just what does Google Instant mean for you, anyway?

What Google Instant means for you as...

 

...a searcher:

The primary consideration for Google Instant, searchers are now empowered to find what they want to find faster than they would have found it before Google Instant (by 2-5 seconds, according to the Google-created graph below). The idea is to allow you to leverage search in a much more productive way. For those of you who do intense research and make use of advanced Google queries, Google Instant may very well feel like more of a headache than making headway. Luckily, you can disable Google Instant either in your preferences or via a trigger just to the right of the search box.

 

...an SEO consultant/agency:

Put simply, Google Instant will not affect your rankings. Traffic, yes. Rankings, no. Google addresses this specifically in a Q & A section on the Google Instant home page(disregard the question's typo currently residing on the page):

 

Monitoring your traffic should be your priority for a while and making adjustments to your keyword priorities as necessary. Usually, updates that Google implements are transparent to your clients, but if you see a significant drop in traffic for your monthly report and you accurately narrow it down to Google Instant, don't scare your clients, but level with them. This is exactly the reason why your SEO work should *always* be done with the caveat that nothing is guaranteed -- or guaranteed to last, at least! I know clients don't want to hear that and to win business, you have to walk a fine line between making promises and being realistic, but I imagine some of you out there have churning stomachs because of what you're going to have to report for September's numbers. =) Lastly, I want to direct you to an excellent post on SearchEngineWatch.com regarding Google Instant. The most interesting point to me is point 7 where they detail how to track Google Instant behavior through Analytics. Very helpful!

 

...a client implementing SEO:

If you're paying someone to implement SEO for you and you're in the habit of receiving monthly traffic/ranking reports, expect to see a dip in traffic and maybe even a wild fluctuation in relation to longtail keyword traffic. As I noted above, keyword rankings themselves aren't affected by this, but the likelihood that someone will find you based on a longtail keyword search has most likely been decreased. Ask for an explanation, but don't prod too much or immediately lose faith in your campaign goals or SEO if the explanation is something to the effect of, "this is because of something Google did."

As I noted earlier, it is for reasons like this that absolutely *NO* SEO can guarantee sustainable results. With that said, great SEO agencies/consultants will analyze, adapt, implement, overcome and contribute just like they always have. Since my aim for this blog is to stay as SEO-centric as possible, I'm not going to delve into the SEM (Search Engine Marketing)/PPC (Pay Per Click) ramifications of Google Instant here. Chances are, if you're reading this and wondering why I didn't cover those bases, then you're already up to par about as much as I am with the industry-wide discussion on those topics. If not, start here.

In conclusion, I'd like to say that although the exact ramifications of Google Instant are yet to be fully analyzed and documented, Google Instant absolutely is not the death of SEO. Nor was the "Mayday update." Nor was the update before it or the update before it and so on and so forth. For every random opinion touting the death of SEO, there's an SEO who analyzes, adapts, implements, overcomes and contributes. SEO just becomes more of a specialty due to requiring more focus and hard work to do it right... at least on the research and analysis end of things, that is. What do you think? How has Google Instant impacted you as a searcher? How about as a Web master, client, or agency? I would love to read your thoughts!

Topics: Google, Browser

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31 comments
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  • Speed of search isn't the issue

    I think Google is missing the point. There is too much emphasis on the speed of displaying search results. This is not what matters. What matters is relevancy. OK, I get the search results instantly, and now what? I still have to spend an awful lot of time clicking through the links trying to find the information that I actually want. Proper research takes a long time. Instant display only shaves off a few seconds.

    The most useful information might be on page 10.000, but I will never get to see it because the site owner has no idea how to improve his page ranking. And Google (or any other search engines) will not help me to find that site.

    I wrote to the Google Chrome developers earlier about a feature that I am missing. Say, over the years I bookmarked a nice collections of useful sites. What if I want to search all the sites I saved under the "News" bookmark folder. I cannot. I don't want to search the whole world all the time. Sometimes I simply want to find information on sites that I already know and respect. I think the search engine that implements this feature will gain significant market share.
    aiown
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @aiown I definitely agree with you, but I imagine Google's data on search behavior played a big part in the development and implementation of Google Instant. Perhaps Google Instant is just another way for Google to postpone the inevitable when it comes to accurately determining relevancy. Or, perhaps Google is simply trying a new approach for determining relevancy through monitoring and utilizing search behavior. It almost seems like Google Instant is training wheels for searchers when compared to someone like you or me who might be comfortable with advanced queries and thus able to flesh out the data we want.<br><br>I'm still up in the air about it all. For the time being, I have that mess disabled. I just don't search that way. I agree that search should be very simple, very fast, and result in high relevancy, but that exact combination of factors is still a long way off, I imagine.<br><br>-Stephen
      StephenChapman
      • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

        @StephenChapman you are absolutely right. We have seen in the past, the failure of Google Wave. Would you think that Google Instant would just be another kind of vaporware?
        wanharris@...
      • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

        @StephenChapman
        Stephen still I feel that the results google is showing is out of the already searched phrases or word. But what if I want to search something differnt, as people think differently and many times it happensa that you keep typing a new query to get a desired result. Does it make relevant?
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        raghavtt
      • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

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      • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

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      • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

        Instant was kinda cool when it first came out, but I have since turned it off and its staying off. It has just become annoying to search with
        sam - <a href="http://smuggecko.com">seo tips</a>
        soskert
      • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

        @StephenChapman You are right. For me google instant is nothing but another strategy to make money through adword impression. I think user never get benefited by this features. The user who is going to search for a particular key-phrases, will obviously type that keyword on the search box, it is not required to show results for a simple keyword, that google do. Yes in this regard google suggestion is good. I really not do not like google instant, even I ask my lots of friend they also reply the same.
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        jamesalan85
    • Agreed

      The gain in speed is really insignificant. The rise in distraction as Instant peppers the user with irrelevant because partial search results is more significant -- with its obviously negative impact.

      Now knowing the way Google works, they must have tried this internally before releasing it on the world. But this is only to fall victim to the fallacy of the unrepresentative sample: Google employees are far from a representative sample of Google search USERS.

      They are supposed to hire bright people for marketing, so they should have known this.
      mejohnsn
      • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

        @mejohnsn Thanks for your feedback. A compelling point, for sure! I know that my feelings absolutely would not be hurt if Google did away with Instant... and I mean that as a searcher, not an SEO!
        StephenChapman
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @aiown
      feature like that will have potential to breech your privacy. I think Google won't dare to implement it.
      dekrit
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @aiown agreed correct results are the matter.
      <a href="http://www.webmastersitesi.com/seo/" rel="muse" title="seo">seo</a>
      lilymark
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @aiown I believe a key motive for streaming search results, aside from instant delivery, is influenced by Google's business model in general, rather than part of a broader move to do away with spam or 'kill SEO'. More user searches naturally drives up the revenue that Google can generate via AdWords. If Google continues developing Instant and producing more timely search suggestions and more effectively find lateral connections in real-time then we should see an overall increase in usage of <a style="text-decoration: none; color: #333333;" href="http://www.scholarseo.com/">backlinks</a>.
      altondev
  • SEO = Search Engine Optimization

    I've seen an increase in traffic for my business since Google instant rolled out. I'm up about 30% over last month.
    trance2tec
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @trance2tec Interesting. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing metrics from people who Instant affects in a positive manner over the course of the coming months. Thanks for your comment!
      StephenChapman
  • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

    @ARealist

    Search Engine Optimization - making your company's site show up higher in the search rankings.
    Confused222
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @Confused222
      to Confused22. Yes <a href="http://www.seoweblog.net"><font color="#000000">seo</font></a> up hingher the search rank and <a href="http://www.seoweblog.net/sitemap.xml"><font color="#000000">sitemap</font></a> on search engine
      upinson
  • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

    @ARealist

    Nowadays, failing to explain the acronym is not the great offense it used to be: we really do expect that you should be able to figure it out in a few seconds doing an online search using Google;)

    So, for example, I did a search using the keywords "wikipedia acronym SEO". Both the first & second link had the definition.
    mejohnsn
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @mejohnsn hahaha. While I agree, it's an offense I'd still like to avoid since I do want to represent SEO in its most ethical essence. Anything I can do to avoid someone feeling negative about SEO right off the bat without ever having seen it or heard about it, I'd like to do.

      I suppose there's a mild irony in there somewhere regarding the usage of Google to define SEO... or maybe not, lol.
      StephenChapman
    • RE: Google Instant: What it Means for You

      @mejohnsn

      Fair enough. More a commentary on the writing than the topic. Blogs are great but it's easy to forget good technique still matters...
      ARealist