Ever since Google introduced Google Instant the question has been how (and if) it will affect SEO. When it comes to search engine optimisation there are two schools of thought regarding this issue. There are those who say (quite correctly) that the introduction of Google Instant did not, in any way, change the Google search algorithm, therefore as far as SEO practices are concerned it should be business as usual and then there are those (who also quite rightly) say that Google Instant affects search end-user behaviour and is therefore significant.

So, who is right? Well, both as it turns out but for different reasons and only one camp is really going to help your website be found faster. While it is true that Google Instant did not change the Google search engine algorithm it introduced a change in the way the search itself can be conducted based upon suggestions made by Google using a variety of metrics. One of those metrics is the popularity of specific search terms. The impact of this is more clearly understood if I use an example.

Suppose, that you have a website which sells black cowboy hats. Before Google Instant was implemented the website’s standard SEO strategy would have been to chase long-tail keywords while constantly optimising for main, heavily contended keywords in a two-pronged ‘attack’ which, in our example, mixed short-term and long-term targets in order to maintain a constant flow of traffic to the website and a constant ascendency in search engine rankings.

Now, let’s look at this same website again with the effects of Google Instant in place. From a search engine algorithm nothing has changed but Google Instant now saves searchers time by suggesting the most popular keywords for their search as they type it. Someone who begins to type ‘black cowboy hats’ will get the most popular keywords presented to him, guiding his clicks. Sites which now use the previous two-pronged strategy will not do as well as sites which attack full on to gain a foothold in the most popular keywords.

The ultimate aim of SEO

SEO has changed because of Google Instant. The ultimate aim of SEO is to increase a website’s money-making capability through relevant visitors, relevant traffic and increased traffic numbers. All of these are subject to searcher behaviour so to ignore the way Google Instant affects it and to fail to take measures to exploit it is to fail the website from an optimisation point of view.

SEO is useless if it does not bring in the kind of traffic which is geared to convert more readily into clients and for that to happen there has to be a delicate balance between the optimiser’s understanding of search engine technology and his grasp of human psychology.  It is there that the crucible of success lies for many websites.

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