Posted September 9, 2010 11:00 am by with 15 comments

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OK, random thought time.

Yes, we’re sticking with Google Instant.

Yes, it’s focused on SEO.

Yes, it ties back to my post about using Google Suggest for keyword research.

Yes, I’ll get on with it.

The long tail is about to become super-important for your search engine optimization efforts. Why? Because, despite our concerns that Google Instant is headache inducing, I think Google knows better. Google knows that using Google Instant–for the average searcher, not you or me–will be a whole lot of fun.

Take for example a search for “San Francisco Hotels.” OK, so the old Google still used Google Suggest, but that required the user to hit “return” or click “search” and commit to a set of search results. Pay attention to that, they had to commit to the search results.

With Google Instant, searchers don’t have to commit to any search query. They can, you know, live a little. As they start typing “san francisco hotels” they’ll not only see suggestions, but they’ll see their search results change as they type. As they expand their search query into the long tail.

They’ll start here:

But, why not see where Google Instant takes them?

Hey, I wasn’t sure if I wanted a hotel near Alcatraz, but what’s the harm in taking a peek? I’ve not committed to my search. I can always start deleting characters and go refine my search. Refine it with another long tail query!

See my point? Google Instant removes the need to commit. So, what does that mean for SEOs? Two important things:

  1. Your page Titles are going to need to be even more compelling than before. You need to not only attract the searcher to your listing, but you have to get them to commit to the search query. That’s going to take a lot of engagement on your part.
  2. You really do need to take a close look at what long tail keywords Google Instant suggests. Make sure you have a page ranked for all the important variations. Show up, no matter what final keyword string the searcher commits to.

What else? How else will Google Instant change SEO?

  • I am surprised that more and more people become so called “SEO Google experts”, however, they do not know a thing about this.

  • Ann Williams

    This is the kind of overview that’s helpful and at the same time, well written. An amusing start, Andy. Loved the expressive graphic, too. Quite the hook for those of us enjoy a clear glance at these incessant changes Google and others are into at the drop of an animated logo, but who won’t stop to read the regular droning stuff.

  • This is a great post, Andy. So many folks are quick to yell that the sky is falling with the new change but I think you’re right. Let’s all settle down a bit and think what it will mean to adapt rather than assume the worst.

  • Interesting illustration with the San Fran hotel example.

    And, that’s one cute tail in the flower garden. 😀

  • Rune Hansen

    I really Think you hit the nail there. Many has doomed long tail Searches after the launch of google instant, but I believe it will “blow more life” into long tail searching.

  • I spent lots of time checking out what terms are “suggested” by that lovely new instant. Most important development in regard to the new feature in regard to organic search. PPC campaigns totally different matter.

  • I think you’ve summed it up pretty spot on. I was initially worried that it would dilute long tail searches, but in effect, it will breathe new life into searching for stuff.

    The interesting thing is, now people might spend MORE time searching, rather than cutting the time as Google intended, by introducing Google Instant in the first place!

    By the way, nice topic pic…. 🙂

  • You might be on to something here… like flipping pages in a magizine and stopping on the page that catches your eye.

    Also, notice how most of these queries tend to have PPC ads front and center? Conspiracy theories open to apply here.

  • Great, thought-provoking post. As you see the ads move about the page, that’s a lot of impressions that will also diminish user commitment. CTRs will have to drop if all those impressions get recorded. I think this could negatively impact their ad revenue. Maybe Google will just force everyone to CPMs if their revenue drops…

  • taylor

    I feel like that you’d be right if users got that far, but I feel like many would stop at hotels and click on the broad keyword term Google suggests.

  • I once read an interesting post on blue hat seo; simply including a ascii graphic in front of your title can sometimes boost click through;
    obviously it stands out from the count, and google should simply disregard this character in your title tag, if I remembered correctly

  • We have been debating this internally for a couple of weeks (since the news leaked). I have been on the side of “long tail” searches became more important, therefore I totally agree with you 🙂 One thing almost everyone in our office agrees on though… Instant is annoying!

  • Wow, I hadn’t even considered that until I read your post, Andy, but you’re spot on — I’m going to have to think about that very carefully and revise my Adwords campaign. Thanks.

  • So this is the biggest change Google have made since they started indexing the web right?

    I’m reading more death to long tail articles than I’m reading long tail lives on, good to find another. I’m hoping you’re right. Finding it hard to believe all those lazy customers out there – myself included – will bother to finish off a query if the screen below looks like it may answer their question.

    One more thing – no one seems to have noticed the promotion of the I’m feeling lucky functionality to every google suggest result. Thoughts on this?

  • Beatrix Willius

    Fascinating. This never would have occurred to me. Most likely, this is the reason why I hate this feature with Spotlight. And with your article I also need to rethink how I implemented searching in my own software.