As you can imagine, a very hot topic right now on SEO forums and blogs is Googles new “Instant” Search. It should have hit practically all users by today, and if it hasn’t then you’ll be getting it very soon.
I’d like to throw in my two cents…
First if you have no idea what I am talking about, here’s a video showing it off:
In a quick summary – it changes the search results as you type. So if you are typing “play texas holdem online” then as you type each word the search results will instantly change before your very eyes.
There’s no doubt it is really slick technology, and I bet the founders of Cuil and many other startups are wishing they had the resources and technology to come up with this, because it’s the one thing that could have made a search engine really stand out from the crowd.
People are obviously freaking out about this. Many people think it’s the death of long-tail keywords for example, or that it will seriously hurt you if you don’t rank in the top few spots for Google.
The one thing we really have to do is this:
Wait and See.
If there’s one thing I have learnt in my 12+ years of internet marketing, it’s that people hate change. Oh sure – everyone wants to be on top of the hot new thing – Gmail, Twitter and the like. Hell, I remember when your own customized Yahoo homepage was the coolest thing in the world to have.
Since the internet has been around and search engines have became popular, search engines have worked pretty much the same: you type in your request, then click “search”. You then go through the results looking for what you want. If you can’t find what you want, then you go to the next page. Then maybe the next page, or you change your request to something more specific.
That’s the way it has worked, and Google are trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s okay to add minor additions that may help people in their searches – Googles suggestive search is a great example of that. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button is another example. Toolbars that offer the option to search with that search engine, or desktop widgets. Changes which aren’t intrusive, don’t mess with the basics, and just help the visitor out.
This is a huge change to peoples internet experience, and I can see there being a huge backlash to it. People just aren’t going to want it – they’ve been searching one way for so long and they don’t want to change it. You know that “I’m Feeling Lucky” button that Google has? It gets used by approximately 1% of visitors.
Now obviously this Google search engine change is different from the button – this change is FORCED upon the user. However the same rules apply – people just don’t like change.
Remember when Google recently changed their homepage so that it had a background? That’s all it was – a simple background image.
It lasted 14 hours.
At this stage I wouldn’t be worrying about Google Instant(especially with how easy it is to turn it off). While I can’t see Google turning it off anytime soon considering the amount of time and resources they have put into it, I wouldn’t freak out and drastically change my sites or how I market until we get a better idea of exactly how it works, how many people use it, and how much of an impact it has. Mark this day in your calendars, then come back to it a month from now and compare your stats and you should get a better idea of the effect it has.
In the meantime if you ARE thinking of optimizing for it, one thing you should be focusing on is eye-catching title tags. No more keyword stuffed title tags just to rank higher – you need to aim for title tags that will catch the visitors eye as they type.
Also if you’ve never did any Adwords campaigns – now would be a great time to start. If there’s one thing Instant Search will benefit, it’ll be Google Adwords.