Archive for the ‘SEO’ tag
The dust has begun to settle on the uproar that ‘new’ Google Instant has managed to stir up. What was clearly a hot topic at the point of launch, the auto-complete function was innovative in design and was set to improve functionality for users worldwide (starting in the US, naturally). And while Google say users will benefit from the ‘improvements’ to their service, the impact it will have on the SEO industry is still very much up for debate.
It’s true; while the new feature might well save valuable seconds per search (giving office workers more time to spend on the important things, like facebook) – it has forced a strategy rethink for SEO companies worldwide. Some analysts have even gone so far as to suggest these new changes might well be the death of SEO.
The premise of SEO was simple enough, once you knew a bit about web design and development. Not quite as simple as “put as many keywords into a bit of text as you can” (would have been nice) but was still very much focused on optimisation and making sure each aspect of a modern web page (links/pics/text/headers/tags) were related to the topic at hand. Then it was all about the ‘strength’ of your page, and the ‘strength’ of the pages linking to yours.
The trouble is that with Google Instant suggesting to users what they might be ‘searching’ for, it’s having a direct impact on the actual search requests that are being submitted. There have been discussions upon discussions as to the extent of the impact this will have, as it has been repeatedly argued that a vast proportion of internet users don’t actually look at the screen as they type anyway. In which case, users would be oblivious to any ‘suggestions’ that may pop up. But then, with the standard 2-keyword search, a 3rd (and sometimes 4th) search term is now being suggested, and search results being returned based on this and not what the user had typed in.
The obstacle that the SEO industry now faces is that users are no longer guaranteed to be ‘searching’ for the things you expect them to. In a recent court case in France, Google have been found liable for a suggested search term that came up next to somebody’s name that was considered defamatory in nature. It also didn’t help that the guy in question was involved in another ongoing court case and the association of terms was considered interfering in the natural course of justice – so they got in to trouble for that too. One interesting thing to come out of this was that Google’s defence seemed to hinge on claims that the ‘suggested’ search terms are actually an aggregate of user-based search queries. Well, that’s certainly useful information.
When it comes to deciding how the SEO industry can respond to these recent changes – it isn’t actually at all that complex. There’s a far greater significance placed on the top 3 or 4 search terms, as there are now less search results appearing above ‘the fold’ due to the drop-down list of suggestions. Let’s face it, this is what any good SEO engineer would have been trying to achieve already anyway. But now because the average two-word entered searches are going to throw up suggested third terms too, there is going to be far more to optimize for. Optimizing for search strings such as “one two” is standard practise, but if you’re optimizing for “one two” and Google suggests “one two three”, “one two buckle my shoe” and “one two three four” – you might have an issue. The search results that are then presented wont be for the original user-entered search “one two”, but instead – the top suggested search term “one two three”. The user is then given the options for the suggested term, and the user is now statistically more likely to click one of the suggested terms than stick by what they entered initially.
So far from the suggestion that Google Instant has put a proverbial nail in the SEO and Online Reputation Management coffin, in reality it has the potential to be a breath of fresh air for the people who know what they’re doing. While there’s no arguing that it has certainly made SEO harder, it has also made good SEO and ORM far more important. As an SEO company, you’re now looking at ensuring you do a better job of optimizing pages by traditional means, but also finding a way of optimizing for suggested search terms too.
With all the hours that have gone into optimizing pages on the web previously, and Google Suggest diffusing the concentration of hits an efficiently optimized website was already getting, SEO companies will now have a busier time than ever to achieve the results they were previously enjoying. By that same token, good SEO companies are also going to be in much higher demand.
Just think how much better you’ll fare against the competition if you find somebody who knows how to work the new system?