We’ve all been abuzz over Google Instant. I’ve seen some ridiculous articles written on the subject – some are claiming that it’s the “death of SEO”, and have read some very insightful articles on it. There still seems to be a big question that is hanging out there – “Great new feature! So… what are we supposed to do?”
Is it over-hyped? In some ways, yes.
Marketers seem to be a little paranoid that this changes everything with search. Google has stated that there have not been any changes to the algorithm. You’ll get the same results for “shoes” as you would with “sho” and selecting “shoes” as the option. It’s really more of a slick browser-type of feature that speeds things up. It doesn’t fundamentally change anything you do from an SEO standpoint. You can’t optimize for “sho” and win for “shoes”.
That said, there are some things you can begin to think about while we all wait to see what type of behaviors are going to be influenced by having access to these “instant” results. One area you may want to consider researching is – how do these instant results influence your audience’s intent? Will they change their mind on what they actually want to do based on Google’s instant suggestions? Those users who know what they want to find information for are probably less likely to be distracted. For example, if I want to go to a Chicago Bears game, and search “Chicago bears 2010 schedule”, I’m not likely to see the instant results and instead click on “Chicago marathon”.
Then there’s the flip side of the coin. What about those users and potential customers that are early on in the buy cycle? Those with low brand awareness. Will they be influenced or distracted by results for “shoes” when they just type in “sho”? I’d argue that yes, they will. This means that you can lose traffic to a competitor.
So what do you do?
A good way to approach this is to develop a matrix of audience segments. For this example, let’s use “focused users” and “early users”. For your “focused users” segment, list out all your Keywords and Preferred Landing Pages. Create a baseline ranking & traffic report and monitor if there are major fluctuations now that Google Instant. For your “early users” segment, do the same. Odds are, over the upcoming months, you may see a drop in traffic for the latter segment.
At that point, you can create an action plan. For example, let’s say you see a drop in traffic for a broad topic keyword. Since you created a baseline and can clearly show the drop, you now have a business case to take to your stakeholders to get buyoff on strengthening your content or looking at linking opportunities.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.