There’s been a lot of controversy over Google’s big change yesterday, Google Instant. The entire SEO industry seems to be torn over whether this constitutes the “death of SEO” or a major industry shakeup to which SEOs will have to adapt.
In Google’s own words:
“Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.”
So, why are many SEOs jumping ship and clamoring for another profession now that their livelihood is “dead?”
From what I can gather, many are afraid that users will now never enter the same longtail phrases that have become a staple of the SEO industry. As Google provides feedback while you enter your search query, ship-jumpers claim that users will abandon or alter their queries based on this feedback.
Here’s the problem with that. Searchers know what they are going to type before they begin typing it. Seeing feedback doesn’t alter your query. It merely saves you time. Google guesses what you are searching for and displays results as you type. This saves you time in two ways:
1. You don’t have to finish typing your query. Google guesses what you’re trying to type and displays results of the most likely finalized query. If you are searching for “dog food companies” you actually only have to type “dog food compan” before Google displays the results for “dog food companies.” This does NOT mean that you should try to rank for the keyword “dog food compan.” It just means that Google knows the probability that you’re searching for “dog food companies” after you type “dog food compan” is very high. It saves you three keystrokes, which can add up when millions of users are saving three keystrokes every day, multiple times a day.
2. You don’t have to hit “enter” and wait for the results page to load (or take your hand off the keyboard, put it on your mouse, navigate the mouse to the “search” button and click “search,” then wait for the page to load). The loading is done as you type, which is an effective use of multi-tasking by Google to accomplish the same result in less time. It’s like putting your clothes in the washing machine at the same time as your dishes are in the dishwasher as opposed to waiting until the dishes are done to put your clothes in the washing machine. Your productivity doubles and time is saved, even if only a few seconds. Again, when scaled up to the amount of users querying Google every day, this probably does translate to billions of minutes saved, as Google claims.
So, why does this make SEO more crucial than ever? Because Google just made itself better. A lot better. It just made itself an even more viable tool for finding information, which means it’s going to capture market share from Bing/Yahoo. This means potential clients are searching on Google for companies with solutions to their problems. If your company can’t be found, you might as well be invisible.
Google Instant doesn’t kill SEO. On the contrary, it makes it even more valuable than before.
So, what’s your opinion on Google Instant? Let’s hear it in the comments.