The verdict is still out on whether Google Instant will make a dramatic impact on SEO. Although Google states that the algorithm hasn’t changed, the recent addition of Location, and the indexing of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook may eventually play a bigger role than previously thought. Just the fact that so many people are talking about Google Instant shows that all though the analytics are not changing dramatically yet, the behavior of people searching for information is.
If you haven’t had a chance to play around with Google Instant, you probably should. It can be very interesting to slowly type out what you are searching for and watch Google try and predict where you need to go. For the most part the instant results are pretty close, especially if you have enabled the location option. The question is whether the average web surfer will be satisfied with the instant results or actually proceed to hit the search button.
For example if you Google “Emergency”
Google pulls up the 10 most popular searches based on keyword weight and location. This is great news for paid ad placement and location oriented businesses, but what does it mean for the searcher? Unfortunately, say the person was actually looking for “Emergency Care”:
At this point the searcher has already stopped to read the first results, which were not relevant. The many people testing Google Instant results right now estimate that it saves the average searcher only two to five seconds per search, but if they don’t find the results in the first or second word – it is probably just a waste of time. If they completely ignore (or turn off) the Instant option, the best bet to get quick and accurate results is to continue using a long-tail keyword specific to the exact search.
What Google Instant couldn’t predict is that the searcher was actually trying to help a panicked friend in LA find the closest center to take her daughter that had broken her arm.
Understanding the core feature of Google Instant and understanding your businesses target market are by far the most important aspects of deciding whether to change your current SEO strategy. The Core features show algorithm based search results as they are typed, predicting the search so relevant information can be quickly located. Since the algorithm hasn’t changed, an in-depth analysis of your websites analytics is going to prove the most beneficial. Pay special attention to the organic results and tail keyword phrases; have they generated traffic in the past? Do they continue to generate traffic? Start breaking down the long-tail phrases that aren’t productive into smaller basic terms. If a tail keyword phrase is generating traffic, leave it alone for right now and see how the analytics change over the next few weeks. Play around with the keywords and phrases on Google Instant and see what results are showing up in the top ten.
It’s a smart move to make your SEO decisions based on the analytic information, not on the hype or rankings yet. There are still way too many unknowns in the initial research to invest a lot of time or money in trying to get “Instant Ready”. If you don’t have a solid SEO strategy already in place for your website, now is definitely the time to get started. Do some keyword research using Google Instant to figure out what terms are going to work the best for your niche market.
Quality links are still a very important factor in SEO, but the most beneficial type of links is slowly evolving. It doesn’t take more than a quick glance at the analytics to see whether you are utilizing social media to its full potential. Individual tweets are now showing up in some Google results. This will probably be a continuing trend considering the growth and weight of social media in the past few years. If your URL or blog post is tweeted, re-tweeted or shared on Facebook, all of the search engines will start recognizing the link as “valuable”, resulting in a higher page ranking. Reposting your twitter feed on Facebook, your blog, and everywhere else you can think of, will often give more weight to your page ranking and increase the amount of inbound links directed to your site.
Your best bet until the dust clears is to start integrating a host of web applications directly onto your website that promote interaction between the various social networks. This prevents visitors from exiting your site to share information and also increase the overall number of page views. There are many applications out there to choose from right now, one of the most comprehensive, easiest and most visually pleasing toolbar in my opinion is the Wibiya web toolbar.
The toolbar appears on the bottom of your page and allows you to interact directly with your visitors without having to visit the vast number of social networks that you use. There is no coding involved, it’s completely free and can be added to your site in less than five minutes.
It also includes its own analytics and the more basic options of Share, Re-Tweet, Buzz and Recommend.
Keeping up with ever changing technology is never an easy task. The worst thing you can do is make rash decisions based on a current trend that may or may not directly affect your business. Although it’s definitely important to be aware of all the new bells and whistles as they roll out, take your time when making major changes to your website and marketing strategy. It’s not necessary to be a pioneer when it comes to running your online business. Wait until the kinks in new technology are worked out and listen to the advice of others who have tried it out first. The best thing you can do right now is make the content on your website more informative, interactive and easier to share. Getting your URL out there in the social stream will greatly increase your chances of making the list on Google Instant, as well as get you to the first page of all of the other search engines.