Thursday, 9 September 2010


Yesterday, Google revealed a new search feature called Google Instant. The feature allows search results to be displayed as the user types and aims to predict the user’s search query before completion in order to make search faster and more personalised. The question is how will this affect search results and organic web site rankings.

Google says about its new functionality:

“Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.”
The change will not only affect the speed at which search would be carried out, but it will affect users’ search behaviours by predicting and offering queries according their search history. This will work to guide the user and will take very place fast in order to offer users a quicker and more effective search experience.

From a user’s point of view it is an exciting change. However, among search marketers, there are concerns about the impact on SEO and optimisation works and how the search community will be able to predict and consistently delivery their content and the products and services that they promote to potential and existing user-groups.

Google claims that the changes brought on by Google Instant will not impact the ranking of the search results. However, it seems clear that when users across the globe start seeing search results as they type search rank and search results will have to impacted, as real-time feedback will play a significant role and thereby possibly changing the users search behaviours or even their initial search.

Search marketers have traditionally focused on users’ search behaviours as a guide to optimising their web sites’ content, meta- information, etc. With the entry of Google Instant, search becomes even more about real-time action and one result is that no two users will see the same search results anymore. This will make the search marketer’s job, to communicate the desirable messages to the user, much more difficult.

Luckily search marketers have learnt to be highly adaptive; thanks largely to the constant flux of change in our world and will discover patterns and ways to get through to target users as these become clearer. For starters, increasing the frequency of ongoing social media and social media optimisation will have to play an even more central role in order to achieve high organic visibility. Initially, this may counter some of the potentially negative effects this instant search will have. But one cannot yet tell for sure.

What we can say is that once again, the search engine marketing landscape is changing and the optimisation game with it. Real-time search is a fact of life and social media and blended search will play a more central role, more quickly.

At the end of the day, Google and the other search engines are changing search in order to deliver better, more relevant content to the user faster and more effectively than before. In effect that should make everyone better off and in time it will. Changing the way results are displayed will temporarily alter tactical implementation, perhaps, but the basics of SEO still remain the same; a website, in order to rank well for their product, service or message needs to offer unique and relevant content; be user- and search engine friendly; and perhaps more importantly use the social landscape of search to spread the message.

If the resulting technique sounds like the way business was done for generations, long before the advent of the internet was part of the marketing game, well, it is because in principle it is the same. Offer products and services with messages that people like, and they will reward you by tell their friends, who will tell theirs and on and on it goes. Word-of-mouth – the internet way.