February 22, 2011

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Google Instant: What Does It Mean for Marketers?

It’s been just under a week now since Google launched “Google Instant” - a huge change in the way the search engine displays its results. With Google Instant, you will no longer be directed to a search page after typing in and sending your search query. Instead, Google’s results page will be updated as you type.

“We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster,” Google says, adding that Instant can save between two and five seconds per search.

With Instant already rolling out across the US, technology observers have been scrambling to predict what it will mean for the world of search engine optimisation and search engine marketing. The question is, how will the fact that results appear before users even finish typing affect where they eventually end up clicking?

Keep Calm and Carry On

Google has been quick to jump on any conjecture that previous SEO/SEM efforts will now be obsolete. Alden DeSoto, a member of the Google Analytics team, told pcmag.com that the idea of bidding on partial keywords is “not a productive strategy.”

“Please note that ads are triggered based on the ‘predicted query’ and not the stem that the users types in,” DeSoto writes. “So, in this example, the partial query ‘flow’ triggers results for the predicted query of ‘flowers’. The only way someone can see your ad for ‘flow’ is if they specifically searched for that word and hit enter or clicked search. And since you sell flowers, it’s not likely that your ad for flowers will be served alongside such a generic and irrelevant word.”

DeSoto added that Instant won’t change search rankings, and that search queries would be tracked as they have been until now. So, if a home hunter was typing “Seattle real estate” but got the result they wanted at “Seattle real,” the predicted term “Seattle real estate” would still show up in Google Analytics’ reports.

On Second Thoughts…

There is one change Google Instant will bring about that’s worth noting, and that’s the way AdWords impressions will now be counted. DeSoto’s blog post explains:

“With Google Instant, an impression is counted if a user takes an action to choose a query (for example, presses the Enter key or clicks the Search button), clicks a link on the results page, or stops typing for three or more seconds.

It’s possible that this feature may increase or decrease your overall impression levels. However, Google Instant may ultimately improve the quality of your clicks since it helps users type queries that more directly connect them with the answers they need.”

Watch Those Figures

searchenginewatch.com sums up the potential impact of Google Instant by comparing it to the introduction of Universal Search, which brought together video, news, blogs, maps, and image search properties into one results page. “As was the case then, lost real estate for organic search results presented new opportunities for the savvy marketer,” the website explains. “The same is likely to be true now.”

As with any change to Google’s search, the best thing website owners and search engine marketers can do is to keep a close eye on their traffic and advertising costs to see if there are any major changes. Only by monitoring these figures can you make an informed decision on whether you need to shift your marketing strategy.


Related posts:

  1. Google in 2010: What Changed, What Didn’t
  2. Is Google Personalized Search A Threat To Property Sites
  3. As Google Changes, it Pays to Check Your Rankings
  4. Google’s Results Now Highlight Location
  5. Long Tail Changing the Landscape
  6. Google Gives SEO Tips
  7. SEM: Is Google the Only Option?
  8. Google’s Latest Releases Part 1: Real-time Search
  9. How to Respond to Google Reviews
  10. Google’s Latest Releases Part 2: Personalised Results

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