Why Google Instant Search Won’t Destroy SEO
It’s been hard to avoid the subject of Google Instant over the past 8 hours. There have been all sorts of alarmist posts claiming some kind of SEO Armageddon and that it’s time for online marketers to pack up their bags and leave. It’s nonsense.
Whilst we don’t fully know what the impact of Google’s instant search option will be, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario whereby SEO as a practice and an industry would collapse as a consequence. In fact the very opposite may be true.
The need to be above that hallowed fold of the page is now greater than ever, particularly as only the top 2 or 3 now appear here. So optimising for your key terms and eking out those last rankings could now make a huge difference.
We don’t know what impact it will have on search behaviour, we can only speculate. In my humble opinion though, Google Instant isn’t about to bring SEO crashing down. All it represents is another factor to consider. Something else we need to account for when it comes to defining keywords.
Searchers can now be more easily led by popular searches as define by Google, but that doesn’t mean that they will. If you know what you’re looking for, the speedy updating of SERPs shouldn’t cause a distraction. The issue for SEO though is that it might.
So why else is Google Instant not guaranteed to wipe SEO off the map? Well, how about the ease with which it can be switched off. Half an hour of searching yesterday provided enough on-screen nonsense results for me to decide I didn’t want it on any more. I doubt I’m alone, although that’s hardly a guarantee.
How else can you bypass this system then? Well, what about simply typing your query into the search toolbar? At the moment this is still old style Google requiring a full search term and the usage of the enter button. It might not stay that way, but for now it certainly doesn’t have any instant qualities other than the suggested searches.
Then of course there are mobile users. Google claims that this will be rolled out soon, so this is a temporary respite. But with the mobile Internet growing hugely and wireless connections becoming more crowded, the likelihood of anybody having the bandwidth necessary to perform searches this way is limited.
Anyway, these are all hypothetical. But essentially the main point is that there are too many factors that need to be considered before we start to think apocalyptic thoughts about Google Instant and its impact on your site’s traffic.
The important thing here is that there is nothing that should be of immediate concern. Google Instant is there to speed up search and help users find the content they want. If you are able to produce that content, then you should still be able to reap the benefits. In the mean time just have a play around with it and enjoy it for what it is.
This might be the future of search or it might be the thing that turns everybody on to Bing. Google have rolled the dice, big brands look set to benefit again (those who can rank well for generic single word entries will be seen most – i.e. big brands and Wikipedia of course) and we are all waiting with baited breath for some genuine results. But until they emerge, we won’t have a clue what the effect is likely to be.
So some of you might be thinking how can you say that we won’t know what the effect will be and say that SEO won’t be impacted? A fair point, but I can’t see why SEO would be destroyed. It will be changed, that’s almost a certainty; but this is just another factor to consider, just like any Google update. It might be more significant than most, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the ultimate game change either.