David Amerland

Google Instant and the changing face of SEO

Over the past year Google has, quietly, rolled out over 350 changes to its search algorithm, each of which has made it more responsive, faster and capable of delivering more and more relevant results. As autumn rolled in, in the northern hemisphere, Google made a seemingly tiny change which, however, is going to have a whole lot of ramifications in terms of SEO.

First, let’s look at the change. Google has for some time now been getting into the real-time search game with Twitter results coming up in a real-time window within Google search results. The latest change called Google Instant you can see what it’s all about in the video below:

Now that you have seen it and you have felt the contagious excitement of the video itself it’s time to sober up and examine the effect. For the end user Google Instant is good news. Faster search and more relevant results (at least as far as trends are concerned). It is intended, as it says, to save time and effort and it does that no problem. In terms of search engine optimisation and the ranking of sites Google Instant will not affect where sites rank which is also as the Google engineers intended. So, to all intents and purposes, Google Instant is an inert change from an SEO point of view. All however is not that simple and on the web, as in real life, each action has an inevitable reaction.

Let me explain a little further. The ‘old’ Google search box allowed the user to type in a query (and Google gets over a billion queries each day and has over a billion users on its sites each week) and see some trending results and then go and choose from the suggested sites. Now however Google Instant predicts, suggests and helps all in one go. By making search faster it also manages to skew the results, making the decision making process from the end user point of view faster and presenting results which are trending in terms of the search term entered.

The result of such change in terms of SEO means that now site content has to be more relevant than ever and also take into account trending topics within its overall thematic wordload and work them into the site itself. This one relatively small change then suddenly makes the work search engine optimisers and website owners who do SEO themselves, considerably.

If your site is not set up in a way which will allow it to be present in the trending search results and appear appealing, in terms of content, to the end user so that they click on it, you will see a dip in terms of traffic, which incidentally is one of the trends I predicted a little earlier when I discussed how more searches will deliver less and less traffic to a site. In order to compensate for Google Instant you need, more than ever before, to have a site which delivers solid quality content which is compelling for the reader to read. Manage that and you have little to worry about in terms of the impact of Google Instant.

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