Google shall find – even before you seek..

8th September 2010 might just go down in the history of Internet search as one day that changed the way people searched and found information online. Google’s new feature, ‘Google Instant’ is all set to dramatically reduce the time people will spend searching online.
While the new development has excited the Google users owing to the enhanced user experience, it has made most online marketers anxious, just thinking about how it will affect their SEM, SEO efforts. There is a lot of discussion happening online on how Google Instant will affect the search habits of users and eventually affect the business community at large. The greatest fear being that all that money and effort they have spent on SEO might become irrelevant.

According to Google’s official statement – the only visible changes companies can expect is “some fluctuations in AdWords impression volume and in the distribution of organic keywords. For example, you may find that certain keywords receive significantly more or fewer impressions moving forward.”

The Internet is already abuzz with stories of SEO doom as analysts try to decode the outcome of this new feature by Google.

According to Steve Rubel a well known marketer and columnist – “no two people will see the same web. Once a single search would do the trick – and everyone saw the same results. That’s what made search engine optimization work. Now, with this, everyone is going to start tweaking their searches in real-time. The reason this is a game changer is feedback. When you get feedback, you change your behaviors. Google Instant means no one will see the same web anymore, making optimizing it virtually impossible. Real-time feedback will change and personalize people’s search behaviors.”

While I agree with Steve on the personalization of people’s search behavior bit, I would like to differ that this would make search engine optimization irrelevant, rather I would say that now being on the first page (only first page will matter) of Google Search is going to be more relevant. Unlike before people now do not have to go through pages of search results before they come back to refine their search query, with Google Instant now they will start refining their search on the go, stopping only when they find their answers on the fist page of search results.

So folks, get ready for a highly competitive SEO environment, your company will matter only if it is on the first page of search results.

The other noticeable changes one can expect to see are;

- An increase in the usage and optimization of long tail keywords, since these would be used by searchers to refine their search. Foreseeing the long tail queries and optimizing your site for these are going to be critical to your making it to the first two pages of Google search.

- The other trend we might see is in the space of Google pay per click campaigns –  I guess it is safe to assume that now that we have search results appearing for even incomplete words we might see increased biddings for incomplete keywords for PPC campaigns. Now this might sound a little far fetched, but then – there is always a possibility that while half way through typing the search query, the person sees something that answers his query and goes on to evaluating the search result. Increasing the possibility for an increase in demand for incomplete keywords.

In fact I feel this could be a well thought through business strategy from Google, I mean adding incomplete keywords to its list of paid keywords is going to be an additional source of generating revenues. However, we have to wait and see if this trend is something which will make headway amongst the advocates of Google PPC campaigns.

Online marketing is a huge industry and millions of hearts tend to miss a beat, when the Search engine leader decides to experiment with its services, after all it might just mean a lot of learning and unlearning in the times to come.

How this would really affect the way we do online marketing and if it would really affect is something only time will tell.

As a searcher, I welcome the change, it is good to unload some of the thinking work to someone else – and when its Google, it is even better.

As a marketer, well what can I say, only God and Google can spread such fear and anxiety even when doing it all for the good of mankind!

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4 Responses to “Google shall find – even before you seek..”

  1. Peter Johnston says:

    I believe this will have negative, not positive, implications for those long key phrases. Half way through typing the phrase, buyers may find something close enough. So they never finish the phrase.

    It means that SEO for the actual phrase is not enough – you also have to look at SEO for all the stages along the way. If your key competitor comes up when the phrase is half typed he may pinch your click.

    The result will also be different on different devices as some computers/internet connections will be quicker with the feedback than others. With the current explosive growth in access from mobiles this is important and could even swing sales from one carrier or device to another.

    It is a massive opportunity for companies equipped with a web analysis tool like that in LeadFormix. This will capture exactly the key snippet used to cause the click so companies will know exactly what to optimise for SEO. It will tell you how many people click straight through when their answer comes up before they’ve finished typing.

    There is another giveaway which will be revealed. Many people can’t be bothered to remember URLs. Even if they visit the site regularly, they find it again by typing the initial letters into Google to find the site they recognise.
    LeadFormix will show this and thus be able to distinguish regular visitors from less frequent ones. A big clue in dividing buyers from researchers.

    Last but not least – never believe Google is doing it for the good of mankind!

  2. JamesH says:

    I have to agree that people are going to look for tricks to ‘cut in line’ by optimizing towards the front end of search strings. If this happens it decreases the integrity of the search and gives more incentive for brands to use social and aps to circumvent search all together.

  3. Gururaj Rao says:

    Hi Peter,

    Great thoughts -A couple of additional thoughts to add on

    1)Greater emphasis on SEO and knowing top keyywords – Most of the responses will now depend on top keywords. It will work like predictive text does on Mobile – so a more likely word (phrase) is likely to appear first and those search results will come first. If you are able to find the top searches for a particular keyword (I am not sure when the instant search kicks in, is it after the first word, few letters etc), one can identify top keywords to improve SEO on. There will therefore be even greater emphasis on SEO because of the reinforcement effect (the top keywords will get even more clicks) and the desire to be in the top 3 results for those

    2)More traffic – If you have done a lot of SEO or are in the top results, you may find more results for them especially in exploratory search. There could be a higher bounce rate on these because not always can you identify from the blurb if the result is the right one. Being able to provide relevant info for these “accidental” visitors would be very critical

    3)Lesser diversity in keywords – Because most keywords will be suggested, the diversity in the number may be lost if every person starts using this.So this could be a positive feedback loop for more SEO improvements.

    I am though, not entirely sure that the partial keyword would be shown – Based on the demo it does look like a probable guess is highlighted and results will be shown for that.

  4. Sybil Veneziano says:

    Any change in form produces a fear of change, and that has accelerated. Marketing is the death of invention, because marketing deals with the familiar.

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