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4 Lies About Google Instant

September 13, 2010

By now, you would have seen and heard all about Google Instant which takes the Google Suggest feature a step further by not only trying to predict what you are searching for, but also serving up results as you type. Camp Google say the benefits of Google Instant includes: faster searches, predictions that help guide searches, and dynamic results without the need to click a button.

Over the past few days, there have been lots of write-ups and speculation about how this will play out – some insightful, others bordering on the ridiculous. So with that, I wanted to share some thoughts on four mistruths I’ve read about Google Instant.

1. SEO is Dead

Bollocks. Google Instant may try to guide users in their searches, but the search results essentially remain the same for a query – in terms of how they are ranked and how relevancy is determined. It seems that every time Google announces some kind of “evolution”, someone somewhere screams death to SEO.  The truth is, SEO has more lives than a cat, and SEO is not going to die any time soon.

2. Letter Optimization is the Way Forward

This one is difficult to type without laughing. Remember, Google Instant just tries to predict what words you are going to type in based on the letters you type. As always, it serves up results based on keywords, not letters. So trying to optimize your pages for letters (and partial words/letter combinations) is not only stupid, but also rather pointless.

3. Google Instant Doesn’t Change Anything

Whilst Google Instant does not mean the death of SEO, we shouldn’t assume that nothing will change as a result of it. We need to watch our results and adapt to new and different opportunities. One area to watch in particular are your longer tail keywords as Instant looks to better refine searcher queries and teach users to search more efficiently. And if you aren’t already paying attention to Google’s search box suggestions, then it’s time to start.

Best said by Mr. Cutts: “SEO has change as a core part, and a good SEO recognizes, adapts, even flourishes with change” — One of the reasons why we love what we do.

4. Impressions will Become Over-Inflated

Due to Google Instant’s dynamic results, there have been a lot of questions around impression count. We’ve been told that Google Instant counts your impressions in a few different ways: If the user types and then clicks anywhere on the page; when the user clicks the search button, presses enter or selects a query; or if the user stops typing and does nothing for three seconds.

The jury is out as to how exactly this will affect PPC campaigns but I think that it’s unlikely to lead to ballooning impression levels, as some have alluded to. Keep an eye on your impressions, but at the same time remember that conversions (and behavior lower down the funnel) are the important numbers.

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  1. Great insight as always!

    I’ve read a few of these outlandish, link-baiting reports and they’re either hilarious, ridiculous, or some combination of both.

    The one thing I’ve been thinking about since Google Instant’s release is how it changes the long-tail, short-tail SEO game. In my crazy sketchbook mind, I see the tail shortening a bit, now that Google helps clean up a few of those preliminary search terms.

    What do you think?

  2. Yes, short tail vs. long tail is definitely going to be the area to watch, as are exact vs. broad match on the PPC side. As you say, it seems like the tail may shorten slightly as a result.

    It’s also interesting to see PPC now dominating the above the fold results, with only the first two SEO positions falling above the fold, potentially driving more clicks towards PPC (more money for Google, I guess) and to those top SEO slots.

  3. It was great!
    Thank you for sharing …

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