Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Can Google Instant Influence SEO and PPC

Something is always sure to come from Google. Google has come up with Google Instant last week.

What ever Google does it really affect the online marketers much. Every time one has to tweak the website to cope with the changes made at Google end.

According to Matt Cutts, the key insight behind Google Instant is to help the visitor to formulate search queries more quickly. Google typically returns search results in milliseconds, but it takes several seconds for us to type a query. In other words, the limiting factor on a typical search is the one who searches. With predictive search and instant results, you can often get the answer you want much faster.

So, how will this Google Instant influences on how we do SEO and PPC?

1. Keywords Stats: Over a period of time, people will get used to use it and will try to toggle around with the different key phrases suggested by Google Instant. Hence, one needs to concentrate on such keywords which are being suggested by Google Instant. Now, another question here is how will we know the number of times a key phrase has been searched in Google now? Because, by just using the ‘arrow key’ one can view the results (without actually hitting the ‘enter’ key). The challenge here is how Google will be able to give the marketers these numbers now (Also read point #5 below to actually know how to track the referral keywords which are not typed completely). In the below image you can see the search is made for just ‘is seo’ and by just using the ‘arrow key’ or the mouse cursor different results were displayed. This definitely reduces the time required to search a query.

2. Which Keywords to Concentrate: Now, look at the same example displayed above. I wanted to search for ‘is seo important’ and the suggestions give to me by Google were ‘is seo dead’, ‘is seo worth it’ and ‘is seo important’. Now, for which all phrases I should optimize my site for, when these phrases suggested by Google are antonyms. On the other hand, the user is deviated from the topic he is keen to find info for.

3. Distraction: I was trying to find ways to control termites using Google Instant. And, when I started typing it, Google suggested me the result for the film ‘The Terminator’ and I clicked and started reading it. So, Google Instant is not providing me the results of what I am searching for. So SEO folks, you also need to read the users’ mind and what all keywords are being suggested by Google Instant.

4. Long-tail Searches: The major problem I see is with long-tail searches. Websites which used to get benefited with the long-tail keywords will have to bare the brunt. As the searches for these keywords will reduce. More so, advertisers who used to concentrate on log-tail for Adwords will also see the referrals coming down drastically.

5. Tracking Google Instant in Google Analytics: With Google Instant, there are effectively two user queries. First, there is the full search query which Google proposes based on a user’s keystrokes and the second, is the partial search query actually typed by the user. Some have proposed tracking the partial query typed by a user by trapping a ‘oq= parameter’ or ‘which appears in the Google result link a user clicks on. Unfortunately, this tip will not work, at least not as things are currently. The ‘oq= parameter’ does not appear in the referrer string passed on to the target website using Firefox. Since it isn’t passed on the referrer, it cannot be tracked by web analytics tools.

6. CTR for PPC: Using the ‘arrow keys’ one can preview the organic search results. But, the Adwords ads are also getting refreshed and giving different results. So, this may increase the number of impressions for the results and thus, effect the CTR and so the CPC.

I see this change in reducing the required time users are taking to find the searched results than they currently are. I do not necessarily see it helping users find better results. The instant results will definitely have an impact on how people get to their final search results.

But, in the long run, this can only mean people searching for more relevant information, that is selecting the right key phrase suggested by Google Instant and the websites are properly optimized for these keywords, could actually deliver a more “informed” group of visitors to the website. But, time can only prove this.

Do let me know your thoughts and experince on the influence on Google Instant.

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