By Tom Foster
Google launched a new search engine feature yesterday called Google Instant that has sparked a lot of controversy and discussion in the Internet marketing world. Many are worried that Google’s new search engine feature will put the SEO’ers out of jobs and the website owners who have spent countless time and money to obtain top search engine rankings back to square one. But, this likely isn’t the case, and we’ll explain why in a minute. But first:
What is Google Instant and What does it do?
When you start to type a search query, Google used to populate recommendations based on the words/characters you are typing based on the more popular searches to save you time.Then you had the option to select one of their recommendations, and search for it, or to continue with your own search.
Now, with Google Instant, Google not only makes these recommendations, but they also populate real-time search results based on what you’re actually typing. It’s kind of an annoying way of Google saying “we’re smart, we know what everyone else is searching for, and you’re probably just like everyone else. So here ya go”.
(It should be noted that users have the ability to disable Google Instant and go back to the “good ol days” when Google didn’t believe in the “one size fits all” approach.)
Will Google Instant affect SEO and how websites are ranked?
Answer: Probably not, the same search engine algorithm is still in place and key SEO factors such as inbound links, content, on-page optimization, etc. still apply.
Will Google Instant influence how users actually search?
The recommendations that Google Instant makes are based on popularity and quantity of search queries. And if you have focused all of your time and effort on ranking for only one or a few vanity keywords, you might have a reason for worry.
For example, if a user is starting to type “Maryland personal injury”, and Google Instant recommends “Maryland personal injury attorney” or “Maryland personal injury law” but and you only rank for “Maryland personal injury lawyer” and not the other 2 variations, users might be more likely to choose those first two recommendations and your site may be less visible.
SEO is still very important and likely will be in the foreseeable future. But you’ve likely shot yourself in the foot if you’ve only focused on one keyword and not variations of phrases and long-tail keywords that are related to your practice and/or location.
SEO (and Internet marketing as a whole) is a process, not a task.
You don’t just get top rankings for one or a few keywords in 6 months and then set your website on cruise control. Instead, you obtain top rankings for a handful of keywords that you want to focus on, and then move onto other keywords and variations by building out your website with content and continuing your on-page optimization and link building efforts.
Increasing visibility on the web should be your number one goal, and the more phrases that your firm website(s) are found for, the more likely you are to captue your target audience.
If you’ve followed this way of thinking, then you have no reason to worry because you likely already rank for whatever variation that Google Instant is recommending to your potential clients when they are searching on Google.
But if you have not followed this way of thinking and are still focusing 100% of your time and resources on one or a few keywords, don’t panic. Instead:
Embrace Google Instant and Use It to your Advantage!
Google Instant will now tell you what it is recommending to your potential clients when they type in particular words or phrases.
So what do you do?
Perform the actual searches and see what Google Instant is showing others!
See what Google Instant is recommending and make sure you add these keywords and keyword phrases to your list of what your website should rank for. Just a word of advice though, you may want to clear out your browser history as it is possible that some of Google Instant’s recommendations may be based on websites that they see you have recently visited.
So Is Google Instant Good or Bad For SEO?
Google Instant shouldn’t be looked at as a threat to search engine optimization, but instead as a wake up call.
If you’re an attorney or law firms who is overly-concerned with ranking for certain vanity keywords, wake up! It’s not just about ranking for one keyword, it’s about increasing your visibility and ranking for as many keywords and variations as possible!
If you’re an attorney or law firm who isn’t thinking outside of the box about additional keywords and phrases that you want your website to rank for, wake up! Google Instant can actually help you find these keywords and phrases!
If you’re an attorney or law firm who isn’t adding content to your website on a regular basis to capture additional long-tail keywords… well, you might be in hibernation and so sound asleep that this won’t even affect you, but just in case… WAKE UP!