Google Instant Helps People, Scares Businesses
by: Jesse Bushkar
Google has become more than a household name. It's a verb. Have you Googled something today?
It's so easy to Google that it feels like it's just kind of always been there. I'm part of the last generation who grew up when there wasn't a Google... back when you had to go to the library to do a research report for school. But even though I grew up without it, I think I would have trouble going back, and Google's latest innovation is about to make that even more true.
Google Instant was revealed the public on September 8, 2010. In short, it updates your search results BEFORE you finish typing what you're looking for. Read that again. It delivers results BEFORE you're finished typing. Don't like the results? Keep typing, and the results get fine-tuned even further, all in real time.
Go ahead, visit Google.com and try it out. It... is... FAST!
But Googling something was already so fast, why would we need it to be faster? Google estimates that their Instant Search feature is 10 times faster than normal search, but I never heard anyone complaining that Google was slow before.
Why should we care about this possibly insignificant speed savings?
After playing with Google Instant, I realize that what is truly different about the experience centers around user behavior. The search results are the same as they were before, but because I get results instantly, I tend to refine more.
Searching for “Savannah Restaurants” didn't give me anything I wanted to see, so I just kept typing. “Savannah Restaurants Southside” was still a little vague. “Savannah Restaurants Southside under $10” gave me exactly what I was looking for. Get the picture?
Google's Instant feature is not about searching faster. It's about finding faster. More specific keywords help me identify exactly what I want, whereas before I may have had to try several searches, then sift through the result of each.
You may not realize it, but a lot of businesses are panicking because of this new development. Well-done business websites utilize some measure of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, to try to outrank their competition. So when Google changes their system, SEO can change, and that means business owners scramble to adjust their approach in the hopes that they don't lose visibility.
SEO is fairly straightforward in theory. You want to rank highly for keywords that are relevant to your business. Take the last example. The phrase “Savannah Restaurants” is highly sought after because there are a lot of restaurants that want visibility on Google. Some of these restaurants have paid big bucks for placement at the top of the search results, whether they're paying Google directly or an SEO / Web Marketing Firm to get there.
But look at my behavior when searching for “Savannah Restaurants Southside Under $10.” I bypassed the results for “Savannah Restaurants,” and even for “Savannah Restaurants Southside.” I did this because Google made it easy for me, and the businesses that rank for those shorter terms no longer have access to me in this search.
Fear not, business owners. This is not a paradigm shift in SEO or Online Marketing. It is merely evolution, not revolution. Modern SEO already centers around longer, more specific keyword phrases. If you are blogging effectively, you are already taking advantage of this practice. If you're not, then you probably weren't getting much bang for your buck anyway. Blogging encourages addressing specific topics one at a time. A restaurant website might not be titled “Savannah Restaurants Southside under $10,” but that fits a blog post just fine.
If Google Instant has any “negative” impact on businesses, it is that it signals the death of “passive SEO.” No longer can you set up a website and keep your fingers crossed that people will find it. An active understanding of how Google works is more important than ever, and keeping your finger on that pulse, Mr. or Mrs. Business owner, is how you can safeguard against future shakeups.
Google Instant should be seen for what it is: Google's effort to continuously weed out the signal from the noise. You have to admire a company that shakes up the industry that they basically invented and control in the name of providing better service to their consumers. And for businesses, this change should be seen as an avenue for you to reach patrons much more effectively.
Embrace this amazing innovation, and your business will be better for it.
Jesse Bushkar is our GM and SEO expert and I asked him to investigate the new "instant" Google search page and his article is attached. Hopefully, this article will answer some of your questions about how this new technology will impact on your website/business. If you have questions, please give us a call.