Is online marketing challenged by introduction of Google Instant:
A buzz is fast spreading on the impact of introduction of Google Instant feature by the search engine giant, Google on the effectiveness and in some cases, on the relevance of running search engine optimization campaigns. While certain experts feel that Google Instant threatens the very existence of search engine optimization as a service with the argument that this feature makes it virtually impossible for anyone to influence the instantly changing search engine listings by on-page and off-page optimization techniques, on the other end of the spectrum are people like me, who strongly feel that on the contrary, Google Instant creates a far more stronger case for the use of search engine optimization experts to ensure top search engine rankings for the appropriate keywords and to enable expanding the reach of the website to be visible for as many keywords as possible.
What is Google Instant?
As defined by Google, ‘Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type’. This means that the moment someone starts typing a search query, search results start appearing based on the most likely queries the searcher is looking for as predicted by Google. In simple terms, as per my understanding the thought behind this move to introduce Google Instant is to minimize the time and effort required by a searcher to find what he is looking for by pre-empting his thought process and displaying to him various possibilities and alternatives on that basis. The main advantages of Google Instant are that it makes searching faster by showing results before the entire query is typed, it can help people who are not sure how to find on Google what they are looking for by providing them various query alternatives to choose from and instant results which keep on changing as the query progresses creating a sort of sequence of search results for the searcher to look at and thus expand the choices he has for selecting accurately what he is looking for.
Does Google Instant really enhance search experience?
Google Instant intends to provide search results to netizens at lightning speed almost immediately. However, how accurate are these results in terms of matching up with the actual intended query of the searcher is debatable. The fear is that in its endeavour to help the average searcher, Google may end up with creating a confusion in his mind or diverting his attention from the actual query he had in his mind to start with. I am not too excited about an average searcher being bombarded with search results for each alphabet he types from the very beginning, but maybe displaying instant results from the moment the pattern of his search query becomes definitive can be a better idea.
Google Instant, to my mind, is more helpful for people who may be termed as casual searchers who are clouded in their thoughts on what they really want, but for the serious searcher with a clear intent in their mind, this feature to my mind is a sort of an irritant which they can do without.
Challenges of Google Instant for Search Engine Experts:
Since Google Instant delivers results at such high speeds and predicts and pre-empts results for the searches instantly, some experts argue that it makes search engine optimization redundant. I feel their main argument which to some extent holds ground is that is will be practically impossible to plan and strategize to provide high search engine rankings for these rapidly changing search engine results for any website.
Besides this, a SERP which is used to show seven to eight results now can only show four or five results below the Google Instant suggestions dropdown. Thus, it has now become extremely important to attain first page search engine rankings for the different keywords. It has been observed from some recent experiments that search results in even second page are really losing ground in terms of clickability and traffic generation potential.
It will also now become extremely important to rank well for general or shorter keywords which owing to the huge competition for most of them will be indeed a tall task to achieve.
It has also been construed that Google Instant tends to favour big brands more in their top search results which also is a matter of concern as it will then make the task of getting good rankings for small, not so established businesses more difficult.
Overall, the main challenge of the search engine experts will be on how to cope with the faster, greater and more diverse search results from Google Instant in order to ensure only high search engine rankings and traffic from the search engines for their clients.
Why Google Instant exemplifies the role of a Search Engine expert?
The mere fact that the process of searching has become faster with greater variations in search results makes a strong case for handling of search engine optimization campaigns by knowledgeable and experienced experts. I think the rules of the game will not change much as far as the ‘serious searcher’ is concerned. After all, any keyword strategy for a client is intent based and it is necessary to ensure that a particular website shows up for the correct category of keywords which may be informational, transactional or navigational in nature. Thus, I would go about my keyword selection process in almost the same manner with one or two minor changes.
The first major change will be some added thrust on general or shorter keywords in terms of both on-page and off-page optimization for them. Secondly, by using Google Instant only, a pattern of long tail keywords as suggested by Google will have to be listed out and efforts be made to ensure search engine optimization of the website for all those keywords. Besides, I feel that keywords that lends themselves to plurals will increase in volume so there will be added emphasis on them as well. It is also expected that an average searcher as he gets more and more educated during the search process, the volume of searches by him will also increase which can also be seen as a positive as expansion of keyword possibilities enhances the scope of work of search engine experts as more work will need to be done on the websites to ensure their optimization for a large number of keywords.
To conclude, though it is true that Google Instant enhance the challenges of an average search engine optimizer and initial findings that suggest more and more emphasis on bigger brands and also that it is only the first page results which are bringing in clicks and traffic are really a matter of concern, still, I feel that Google Instant which is being seen as adversity by some experts may in fact be an opportunity for search engine experts to provide better user experience, enhance brand awareness and popularity for keywords, which visitors as well as Google deem important.
It must be remembered that even after introduction of Google Instant, a website after all needs to come in the top search engine rankings to reach out to millions searching for their products and services and that can only be ensured through intelligent and well-thought out on-page and off-page search engine optimization techniques as the basic principles of the search engine optimization process remains the same. At the end, it is worthwhile to mention that Google has also clearly mentioned that this Google Instant change does not impact the search engine rankings which if true, I hope validates my argument.
Though these are still early days and more will be known in the days to come, but still I would elicit suggestions from experts to share their experiences and thoughts on the issue.