On Wednesday, September 8th Google announced that a new search enhancement would be going live later that day. Called Google Instant, it uses Google’s auto-complete technology which shows a drop-down of predictions based on what the user is starting to type. The real news however was not the drop-down box of suggested terms, but instead the search results that are also beginning to appear as the user types.
Google believes that there are many benefits to using Instant, including faster searches, which Google states it saves users 2-5 seconds on average compared to a normal Google search. In addition to faster searches, Instant also claims to bring smarter predictions from its drop-down suggestion box. For example, if a user is starting to type in a term and unsure of exactly what they’re looking for, the predictions will be able to aid that user and help them find what they want. Finally, the real benefit of this change is that users can see search results as they type and adjust their search query accordingly until they find the desired result. In the old days (or even a week ago), the user would have to complete a search query and hit “search” every time they wanted to see new results.
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So let’s take a look at what Google Instant looks like…
This screenshot shows an example of what the new technology looks like. In the search box, you can see that as I start to type the letters B-O-S, results related to Boston appear. Part of this is due to the fact that Boston is one of the more popular terms beginning with B-O-S, but also because there is some localization involved in the technology, which can tell that I am in the Boston region. In addition to the drop-down suggestion box, you can also see the organic and paid results that are appearing as I begin type in a term.
So the big question many of you are probably asking is, “How does this impact SEO for my site?” Well, the good news is that search rankings won’t change as an result of this search enhancement. Google Instant is simply an update to the search experience and not the algorithm, so you won’t see any improvements or drops in your rankings as a result. This means you should continue your current SEO strategy and also continue to optimize your pages and content for your target terms.
The one major difference you might see from Google Instant is an increase in impressions when reviewing your analytics. An impression occurs whenever someone lands on a search engine results page (SERP) that your page ranks on. Traditionally, this would only happen when a user types in a term and after hitting the search button, landed on a search results page that contained a link to your site. This is still the case, but there are now two more instances when an impression can occur.
Your site may now receive additional impressions when a user begins to type in a term in Google Instant and then clicks on the search results before they are done typing. If your site happens to be on the search results page that the user clicked on, it would be recorded as an impression. There is also the possibility of receiving an impression when a user begins to type in a term and stops typing for three or more seconds. If your site happens to be on the page that appears on the screen when the user stops typing, it will count as an impression.
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