Google Instant – would you like it caffeinated sir?

Google to speed up the rate at which we search with updated SERPs as you type. Will this prove valuable or distracting? Have you seen it yet?

You are reading: Google Instant – would you like it caffeinated sir?

Yesterday, we reported on how Eric Schmidt was telling us not to underestimate the importance of fast. As Google officially announced the advent of Google Instant, we can now see just how fast Google has become.

Most users in the US should be able to see the new search UI but you will probably need to log in if you are outside the US. It is indeed impressively quick with both organic and paid search listings changing as you type in your search query.

Google’s stated aim is to speed up the rate at which you can make searches (as well as the persistent to goal to find the best sites for a user based on their search query) – it will be interesting to tell whether it really does speed up the search process as the initial experience is a little startling (distracting?) and we found ourselves playing around with it to watch results change rather than actually find anything. No doubt, that will change with familiarity but it is a little odd at first.

As usual, there is a lot of noise coming out of the blogging community and some are claiming that it is the end for SEO. As usual, we would disagree entirely with these statements and do not believe that it should make any fundamental difference to how you should approach SEO.

Yes, the physical mechanics of the search results pages have changed but Google’s aim to find the best results have not changed at all.

How does the search engine determine the best results? That is, of course, the golden nugget for search engine optimisers but it will always come down to having class leading content / functionality on your site and being the site that everyone refers to when looking for information in as area. A combination of a great site and a lot of buzz will continue to deliver longer term success and this should always be more important than trying to trick Google into ranking your site.

There will definitely be more issues of personalised results (which is not new) and this simply confirms our long held belief that ranking reports are fairly pointless – you need to look at your web analytics to really measure the impact of your SEO initiatives.

One area that is of potential concern is how it is going to affect paid search as we would anticipate that most ads are now likely to have a lot more impressions, as a three or four word search string could conceivably generate six or seven different sets of adwords ads before the user has actually completed the search.

As anyone who has managed PPC campaigns wil know, click through rate is vital and our initial reaction was one of concern. The issue will however affect all advertisers and Google compares your CTR with competing campaigns so it should not actually be such a big issue.

Furthermore, Google has clarified how it is going to determine an ad impression:

  • the user clicks anywhere on the page after beginning to type a search query
  • the user chooses one of the predicted queries from Google Instant
  • the user stops typing and search results are shown for at least three seconds

That would indeed suggest that some of the very quick ‘impressions’ that occur in the middle of a search will not actually be counted as an actual impression, which is a good thing in our books.

It is worth noting that Google Instant doesn’t work directly from any of the browser toolbars, so not all searches will actually see the results. We can’t find any stats on the search source (this question is one that we would like to see answered!) but we suspect that a lot of searches are made from toolbars so the impact may not be as drastic as people fear.

As always, we like to see innovation and it will be interesting to see what impact this latest change is going to have.


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