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Google Instant – Chump or Champ?

There’s been a lot of tweeting and squawking  about Google Instant over the last few weeks. Love it or hate it, it seems here to stay. But what impact does it have on Sponsored Links and Search Engine Optimisation?

Google adopted the Yahoo!-style predictive search a little while back. What it actually does is to help narrow the search market – less search terms means greater volume on the most popular searches. This also makes those search terms even more competitive, pushing up the CPCs and of course, Google’s revenue.

Showing dynamic results as you type or pick from the predicted searches is a little helpful to a user, but Google’s relevance engine still has to decide which result to rank where whether that’s paid or organic. It doesn’t look like that algorithm will change significantly.

Impact on Search Engine Optimisation

Our resident SEO guru says: “The impact of Google Instant on SEO campaigns has mixed views from the SEO community. Due to the added level of refinement that is offered to the searcher, the potential for any given search to return the same set of results is much lower – particularly as Instant takes into account browsing history.

However, there is a strong belief that those sites within the top three rankings will gain even greater exposure as results are delivered during the search query input. A user may find what they are looking for before completing an otherwise much longer search query. Optimising for those top terms now has even greater value.

The other extreme of that effect is that users may also simply keep typing until the desired result is delivered, which therefore adds greater value to long tail keywords.”

In summary, the same strategies and techniques will continue to work with your SEO campaigns, just make sure that you’re monitoring the search market to ensure you’re targeting the most profitable search terms.

The Death of the Long Tail

On the one hand it means the volume of “long tail keywords” might decrease because there’s more volume in the popular terms. Advertisers will have to work harder to compete on a smaller number of more popular terms with more traffic – making ad copy and CTR even more important to a successful campaign. On the other hand, searchers needing a more specific result that isn’t satisfied by Google’s prediction type longer search terms. It could be argued that they’re then even more valuable searches. That’s certainly the case right now – we regularly see far greater conversion rates and therefore lower costs with longer tail terms.

Questions Answered

A couple of questions we’ve been asked;

1. How does Google count AdWords impressions with Instant results? Google only counts an impression if an ad is shown for 3 seconds or more, which excludes the vast majority of those that show briefly as you type. You won’t suddenly see a huge increase in impressions in your AdWords account.

2. Where did the Wonder Wheel go? If you disable Instant, you’ll see Wonder Wheel right where it was before.

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