Google Instant Debut

There’s a new SEO hurdle in town, and it’s called Google Instant. You may or may not have already noticed this, since it is a part of the Google.com search interface. (As opposed to instant.google.com, which you would have visited once and ignored as fast as your old Wave account.) The idea is very simple: As you type, it loads the search engine results page (SERP) with results before you’re done typing.

Remember how it would offer suggestions to you in the search bar as you were typing? They’re still there, but now it’s also giving you results as you go.

If you’re trying to optimize your web pages, and you’re already having a heart attack over what Caffeine is doing for (or to) you, this is going to be another challenge. Unlike Caffeine, however, where everyone can share a methodology for dealing with it and keeping rankings, this is a bit more chaotic.

Let’s say you are a fitness instructor, and you want people to find your site when they do searches for, “fitness instructors”: By just typing, “F” it shows them Facebook as the first result – if they’re looking at what comes up, it’s an opportunity to forget about looking for you, and logging in for some time killing.

If they keep typing and get out “fitness,” athletic clubs come up – including some in their area, if Google has managed to get a location cookie in their browser. It keeps giving suggestions with every letter entered.

Keep in mind, most searchers don’t go with whatever comes up in their first search. When they aren’t happy with, “fitness instructors” results, they’ll lengthen the keyword to, “fitness instructors in [city],” or “fitness trainers for women” – essentially narrowing down the possibilities.

And Google Instant now offers up a LOT of possibilities. Just about each syllable you type into a search will call up a whole new lot of possible destinations.

If you’re worried how this will effect your search traffic, don’t. In my opinion, for the most part, I don’t believe people will jump ship on the result they wanted in the first place when Google gives them results as they type. People tend to not look away from what they’re typing when they perform searches. (I’ve seen the heat-maps of it, and I wish I had them to post!)

Also, search itself is now ingrained in us. So many people have “Google’d” something by now, they aren’t likely to start taking advantage of interim results just because they pop up on the page. They might over time, but that only means you have a while before you start losing traffic to just similar interests as what you’re selling.

Ignoring all of that, you need to consider the silver lining in all this – your site is also turning up in these alternate search results! If typing in a keyword phrase pulls up 10 different SERPs, that’s 10 opportunities for them to find you instead of what they were looking for in the first place.

So just keep doing the quality SEO work you were doing yesterday. If you were getting rankings then, I predict it will all come out in the wash.

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