Yesterday, as many people know, Google launched Google Instant. You can see a great synopsis of the new product through Suzanne Vara’s post on Google Instant. In the Reader’s Digest form…you know how you used to type a search into the Google search bar and words would come up that Google thought you might be looking for? Well now, instead of just words, Google sends you to what it thinks will be a relevant search results page as you type.
As a researcher at heart, I’m not a fan. I think that it’s risky to take people directly to results because the quality of the research, I believe, will disintegrate. “Well, this isn’t exactly what I wanted, but it showed up in the first position as soon as I started typing, so maybe I’ll just uses that.” But that’s not really my main concern today. My main concern, as a person in marketing, is what just happened to SEO.
Be on the first page?
For many years, SEO experts have been telling companies that the results on the first page are what really matter. It still may to some extent, but in conducting a few searches based on keywords relevant to our clients, I’m noticing a few things.
1. When you type in a search, there are five positions open below the search bar. If there are 3 sponsored ads, that’s too bad. Only 2 organic results show up without scrolling.This only alters if you click on one of the words that shows up while you are typing. Then you are taken to a slightly longer results page for that specific phrase.
2. Image search results sometimes are showing up as result #5, sometimes higher. If you don’t have a lot of images out there, you might be in big trouble.
3. The same thing holds true for videos.
4. Preference seems to be weighted towards keywords that show up in the website’s URL. Typing in the word “first” pulls up First Merit Bank and First Energy for me. A search for a product name that used to pull up several distributor sites now pulls up the manufacturer’s site in the first 2 positions.
If I was engaged in a PPC campaign right now I’d also be a little concerned, by the way. We all have seen the eye tests that show that people read web pages from the upper left corner, with the hottest area being in the middle, and then the cooler areas off to the right, where PPC ads have always been located. Well, if the organic search results didn’t distract you before, try concentrating on if there even are any ads on the right while the results are changing as you type in the middle of the page. The sponsored links above the organic results are the next best place to be now.
What does this mean?
How will this alter SEO strategy? You now need to show up in the first five positions to grab someone’s attention. Does this mean that you really push in the few very specific keywords that are most important to you? Does this mean that you start grabbing every relevant word possible in case your competitors aren’t there? Maybe it means that SEO is just about getting your company and product name out there so that people search for it specifically.
What do you think the ramifications will be? I’m learning right along with you.
Image by Svilen Milev. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/svilen001