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Google Instant: What it Means (and Doesn’t Mean) for Your SEO and SEM Strategy

As many of you probably know, Google launched Instant, a search enhancement that shows search results as you type, on September , 2010. This had a lot of marketers scrambling to figure out how SEM strategies and tactics would need to change.

Nobody has it completely figured out yet, and there’s a lot of “we’ll have to wait and see” involved, but there are a few basic questions that can be answered and some immediate strategies to incorporate into existing plans.

Here are some top highlights to get you started thinking about your next moves:

Search Algorithms

The release of Instant did *not* include a change to the ranking algorithm; this is good news. What did change is how user experience will give greater weight to different search terms. So you won’t suffer simply due to the change, but you do need to start making some enhancements to what you’re already doing.

Search Terms Get More Specific

The primary change is to user experience and how that will affect search behavior. First page rankings, and top-of-first-page rankings, are more important than ever, since users are most likely to click on results on the first page, the top three results in particular. This means more competition to rank on head match terms, but also a lot of opportunity to be found for the long-tail search terms. Displayed search results change as users type in more detailed search terms, so you want to rank highly for the detail so that you reach first position and get the click.

For example, in a search for “women in technology geek girl camp”, “women in technology” is the head match term,  and “geek girl camp” (in this example) is the long-tail term.  Geek Girl Camp not ranked anwhere near the first page for the head match term, but the long tail term serves us up right away. We actually rank 2nd for Geek Girl Camp as the head match term, btw.

Better Intelligence for AdWords Keywords

It’s going to get easier to glean long-tail search terms as users contribute to the terms that end up as the predictive text when a search is being typed. This will help your AdWords efforts.

Page Titles, Descriptions and other MetaData Are More Important
Including successful long-tail terms in your website meta-descriptions, and in your site content, is more important than ever. Making sure that you are including long tail search terms in your metadata will improve your rankings for those terms.

Pay-per-Click Advertising Costs Might Go Up
You (and everybody else) can probably expect to see your cost-per-click for head match keywords in ads go up as competition to keep ads at the top grows fiercer, since Ads that display will also keep changing as people enter more detailed search terms. Reported impressions will also likely go up due to a change in the way Google measures them, so while clicks might remain the same, click-through-rate will probably be lower.

The Impact Won’t Immediately Affect 100% of Google Searches
Many people use in-browser/toolbar search boxes so not all users will immediately behave differently in search, since Instant is only active in search from Google’s main page right now.

I think those are all of the major points; if you have further questions, feel free to contact me, and if I don’t know, I’ll find out!

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Filed Under: GoogleNews


  • Nick

    As the keyword is also very important with the Google Instant. SEO is very important own his place. thanks for sharing the information

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