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Google Instant Launched – what does this mean for SEO & PPC?

By Occupancy Marketing | September 9th, 2010

Google has recently announced the launch of a new innovation called Google Instant. This latest development is designed to speed up the process of searching online, and has some implications for SEO.

What is Google Instant?

Google Instant is the latest development from Google designed to try and save users time when searching. It works by showing results on the page as soon as you start typing in the search box, and uses an algorithm to try and predict what the rest of your search query might be (based on popular queries typed by other users). Results will appear on the page without the user having to click ‘search’ or hit enter, and the page will refresh every time the predicted query changes.

So for example, if a user types ‘flow’ into Google, the algorithm predicts that the user is searching for ‘flowers’ and therefore displays search listings and Adwords ads for flowers. The remaining letters of the predicted query will appear in the box as grey text, and the results on the page will continue to show for this query unless the next letters that the user types lead to a different predicted query (e.g. if ‘flow’ became ‘flowchart’).
google_instant_seach_example
 

Some quick facts about Google Instant

Google Instant will be rolling out over the next few days on Google.com to users signed into their Google Account. The roll out will be across the following locations and browser types – US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia. Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 and IE v8.

Google estimate that using Google Instant will save 2-5 seconds per search, which globally adds up to 3.5 billion seconds saved per day!

You can turn off the Instant function if you want to by clicking the drop down to the left of the search button and selecting ‘Off’.

Google don’t anticipate that using Google Instant will slow down your internet connection, but they do plan to automatically turn it off for very slow connections.

Google Instant is not yet available for mobile but they plan to release it soon

google-instant-settings

How does this impact SEO and Paid Search?

The Google Instant launch is not an algorithm change, therefore will not impact the ranking of search results.It will however have an impact on search behaviour and we would envisage that over time users will start to use less long-tail search queries, and instead allow Google to predict their queries for them. However it will take a while to get to this stage, and for the moment we expect users to continue searching as normal.With regards to paid search, Google Instant will have an impact on ad impressions, and in turn on click-through-rate. As the page refreshes each time the search query is changed, the user will potentially be seeing a lot more ads. However, your impression levels for your ads won’t necessarily go sky high, as they will only count if:

–     The user begins to type a query and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, or related search)
–     The user chooses a particular query by clicking the search button, pressing enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries
–     The user stops typing and the results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds

Summary

It is important to note that Google is constantly rolling out changes and innovations like this, and one of the benefits of working with an SEO agency like Occupancy Marketing is that you get to hear about changes like this as they happen, and as industry experts we are able to advise you on how these changes will impact you and your business. The Google Instant launch is not something that we see as a negative change in terms of search engine optimisation. In fact, we see this as a great new opportunity for the websites we work on, as sites that are optimised well will continue to benefit most from innovations like this.

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