SEO Update: Google Instant

Planet Ocean covered Google Instant (GI) in their September Newsletter. The following is an overview of  the article with some of our favorite bits of information including the basics on GI and how GI may effect your search engine rankings.

What is Google Instant?

If you’ve noticed a difference in search results displayed when using Google – you’ve experienced Google Instant (GI).   GI is designed to predict what the person is searching for – and provide ‘real time’ search results based on the letters and words as they are typed in. Theoretically, making the search process more enjoyable and effective.

This program  –  rolled  out in September  and available only in the US at the present time  has been met with mixed reviews. Some like the fast results to their queries – while others hate it. Hate it or like it, Google Instant should cause you to rethink your current SEO methods.

What’s the Difference?

The main difference experienced when using GI is that the search results begin to populate immediately – even before the user has finished typing in their search string. They don’t even need to hit ‘enter’ – all the user has to do is review the suggested results or look at the websites displayed below the “box” . . . all results changing in real time as the user types in their search query.

How Google Instant Effects Search Engine Ranking?

Google states GI does not have any impact on rankings, however, after only one month it could be said the full impact remains to be seen. This can partially be contributed to the fact that no one knows or can say  how many people will abandon their primary search to click on one of the suggested ‘terms’ or websites.

There will be those that will continue with their entire search string – but what about those that are typing or spelling challenged?   Will they find it easier to click on a suggested topic that is similar? And if this is true, how do you “bullet-proof” your site against this traffic loss – not even taking into account the fact that GI will display three paid ads and one organic listing when the search box results are displayed. Therefore, if your site is in the third or fourth organic position for ranking, your traffic is bound to fall off.

SEO Considerations

1. Call to Action

We all know getting a top ranking is important – but having a call to action may be even more important.

In the past, it has been noted that the call to action should be in the meta description – however, now it is thought by some that this call to action should also be in your title so as to have your website capture attention when displayed in the rankings.  Afterall, you want it to stand out  from all the rest.

2. Long Tail Keyword Phrases

The verdict is still out on how GI will effect long tail keyword phrases.

Long tail keyword phrases can be defined as typically three to five words used in a phrase to target a specific product on a particular page. It has been thought that using long tail keyword phrases better targeted a page for conversion when users were looking for a specific item/product.

That being said, GI could profoundly effect search queries for pages that depend on long tail keyword phrases for their traffic.   If your page is optimized for a long tail keyword, a GI user is going to see numerous suggestions based on the words/letters as they type in their search string.   Once they see these recommended results, will they find your page by continuing  to type?  or  will they opt-in for one of the recommended results even though it isn’t exactly what they were searching for?

For example, we’re looking for a apartment to rent in Austin (Texas). We begin typing our long tail search string “austin apar” The results we see at this point are:

If your website is optimized for one of these more general searches, that’s great. But if you are targeting traffic for a specific part of the city or maybe you have a page dedicated to an apartment service – and you’ve been using long tail keyword phrases – then you’ve got to rethink how you’re going to change your page(s)  SEO to capture traffic from GI.

In our example, say the user continued typing and typed in the whole long tail keyword phrase – ‘austin apartments for rent’ . . . you can see the more refined results.  

But what if you can’t depend on the user continuing to type in the whole phrase because it’s easier just to click on one of the results in the ‘box’?

This could represent a significant loss of traffic. Some are already reporting losses to traffic levels between 20 – 47% just since the September implementation of GI.

What this means is that if your site is ranking well for both broad and long tail keyword phrases – you should not see any negative effect. However, if you are primarily using long tail keyword phrases that require the user to type the complete phrase in – then you will most likely need to make adjustments to your SEO strategy.

Test It

Want to get an idea of how this change will impact your website? Try typing  some of your own website’s  keywords or keyword phrases into Google  and see what pops up. Once you’ve research your websites, you can make SEO changes accordingly.


Although we’ve not discussed it here, these changes will also impact those who use Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. To get the full story on how Google Instant can impact your search results and advertising budget – and more importantly what to do about it – get your subscription to Planet Ocean News now by visiting this link – Planet Ocean News.

The search engines are always changing – usually in the direction of making the search easier for the users – and those that adapt to these changes ahead of the curve will be the ones to reap the rewards which will result in more traffic and more business.

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