Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Starbucks Instant? Now Google Instant!

This article was written by Bob Bradley, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

clip_image002[1]I continually mention in my internet marketing workshops that search engine optimization is a continuing pursuit. It is like running football plays to get down field but there is no real finish line. Just yard lines to pass which are interim goals (like ranking in the top five). It is always advised that Google keeps messing with the algorithms to perfect the search experience thus changing SEO parameters. At the beginning of the year it was Caffeine, now it is Google Instant.  This is not to mention all the “expensive” real estate that Google periodically decides to use for Local Business (the 7 pack) and real time Tweets, all appearing above the fold in the SERPS (search engine results page).

Now Google Instant. You will read and hear how this will eliminate SEO. You will read and hear how this will completely alter your search rankings. You will read and hear that you should consider using only an SEO firm that specializes in Google Instant. You will read and hear about how this is some evil Google method to get more ad impressions and more clicks for their advertisers. As you know, the internet allows all kinds of conspiracy theories coupled with elements of truth. Time usually sorts things out.

Google Instant explodes Google Suggest (that drop down menu that suggest search terms). When you search for GOLF you will get the drop down menu with suggestions but you will “instantly” get the search results for golf without pressing ENTER. In fact you will get changing search results as you type the word GOLF into the search bar. When the letter “G” in entered, the search results are for GMAIL (part of the conspiracy?), when you put the ‘O” after the “G”, you get Google Maps, Google Earth (more conspiracy?), can you guess what happens when you put the “L” in? Wrong, it changes the results to “GOLD”, which Google has a lot of but there are no links to them directly. Does this eliminate the conspiracy?

Now it gets interesting. Add the “F” for the whole word GOLF. All the major players come up in the search results. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. These represent the results that have always come up. Now add the word “PUTTERS” in the search box and once again you get those results that you would have ordinarily received.  Now get creative. Add the word “FREE”  to “GOLF PUTTERS”. This provides a potpourri of results from big players to much smaller ones.

So what? Information and data always tell you something. Getting the search results as you type in letters in the search bar may result in a particular search result catching your eye during the process and diverting your attention from your primary goal which was to find free golf putters. I may have seen the results for GOL (which are gold links) and found something interesting and proceeded to click on it. Never would have done that before. So searchers may well be exposed to other links while they are typing in their primary search query and subsequently be diverted. The diversion may not be so convoluted. Search results could show golf drivers, golf courses, or anything more closely related resulting in a higher propensity to stop and click, but not on my original search topic.  When and if behavior changes, the search paradigm can change. Marketers should always be on the lookout for behavior changes.

Additionally, think what else this is telling you. One, the suggested terms in the drop down menu just may be keywords that Google knows are good ones. Two, the search results that you see when you use Google Suggested Terms, or even your own search query, mean that those results may have been optimized for those keywords. You can see the changes in search results as you add search words to your query. You may be able to better optimize your website for general and longer tail keyword phrases.

There will be fascinating exchanges of ideas, thoughts and conspiracies in the coming weeks and months. I am sure we are only days away from the first SEO promotion touting an expertise in optimizing your site for Google Instant.

Read more about Internet Marketing at www.rjbradley.com/wordpress