Google’s announcement of Instant, a new predictive search display, has caused quite the stir in the SEO community. Before Google’s unveiling event was even done streaming, blogs and tweets began to describe SEO as “dead,” or at its “end,” while others saw these doomsday declarations as hyperbolic and uninformed. While the Google Instant user experience will impact behavior, it’s unlikely that it will have a dramatic impact on search traffic to most ecommerce sites.
In case you don’t know what we’re talking about, here is Google’s official announcement video:
Did you catch that? “At Google, we innovate to make search faster and relevant every day.” Take note, the key words of this release are, “faster,” and, “relevant,” which are consistent with the words used to describe the Google Caffeine release back in June. The Caffeine update increased the speed in which fresh, relevant content is indexed, whereas Instant increases the speed by which users get to the indexed information.
Google Instant will have two likely effects on user behavior. First, because results are displayed as queries are typed, some will stop typing mid-query if they see relevant results. Second, users will become far more interactive with the search box and the volume of long-tail searches will increase. As we have monitored user behavior over the past few days, we’ve found users correcting misspellings and appending additional words to queries when the Instant results are not desired.
It’s important to note that the Google Instant launch does not impact search results. It simply increases the speed at which users get to relevant results. Our focus now should be the same as it was in the pre-Instant era: to pursue proven SEO best practices while creating content with greater relevance to both Google and end users.
Nadia King, an SEO Strategist with our Social Analytics team, pointed to Instant as another reason to prioritize freshness in your SEO strategy:
“Not much changes about the day to day – keep creating relevant and fresh content, optimizing your site, and getting relevant links.”
Finally, remember that the most impacted people are those who begin searches on the Google homepage, www.google.com. A very large percentage of Google search activity begins with search boxes in browsers or on other websites. According to Softpedia, “Google searches coming from Firefox account for 9.18 percent” of all search traffic. Therefore, not all search queries will be influenced by Instant, at least for now.