Live from Pubcon Vegas: Google Instant: Does SEO Require a Fresh Approach?

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Nov 11, 2010
More Articles by Janet


The last session I blogged at Pubcon Vegas his year was Google Instant: Does SEO Require a Fresh Approach? with Kris Jones of KBJ Interactive. Kris started by saying the session should be “Is SEO Dead?”.  He started by asking, “What is Google Instant?”. The idea behind Google Instant was that it would speed up the search process and improve the user experience.

Some benefits of Google Instant:

  • Faster searches (saves 2-5 seconds/search)
  • Smarter predictions
  • Instant results

Before Instant, the average searcher took more than 9 seconds to enter a search term. Some took as long as 90 seconds.

Myths of Google Instant

Myth: SEOs must optimize for letters since Google delivers search results as soon as you start typing.

Truth: The results are for the completed, suggested term. So “f” might be results for “flowers”.

Myth: There’s a new search algorithm with Instant.

Truth: The algorithm has not changed.

Google Suggest

The basic algorithm hasn’t changed for years. Kris feels that Google Suggest will likely have a greater impact than Google Instant on SEO in the years to come. Google Suggest now only shows five suggestions rather than ten, which it showed before Google Instant.  That could definitely affect you if your company was in the top ten of the suggest box.

Commercial Bias?

Google Instant also brings to light the possible commerical bias. If you type in one letter in Google Instant, it tends to bring up big brands. For instance, if you enter “a”, the top site is AOL. Does Instant prefer big spenders?

Head vs. Tail

Most studies show that Instant has made a significant impact one way or another, even though a user might click on a shorter tail word that comes up in the suggest box.

More Impressions?

So far, in a study by Marin Software, Instant appears to have resulted in more impressions AND more clicks on ads. Advertisers also realized more conversions, although the conversions apparently cost more. Kris feels that this means that searchers are more engaged with Google Instant.

Do SEOs Need a Fresh Approach Because of Google Instant?

Kris says not because of Instant, but rather other issues like Google Suggest. What does YOUR data tell you? It may not affect most, but it may affect YOU. Figure out how it affects you and take action if it is.

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