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Google instants impact on SEO

The sudden introduction of Google Instant, Google’s new search-as-you-type engine has definitely got the whole digital marketing community talking. After 5 seconds from the announcement #Twitter simply exploded. After 5 minutes first blog posts were out there. I didn’t take 5 hours until the first ‘Google Instant killed the SEO’ type articles started appearing. After almost 2 weeks, it’s time to summarise key Google Instant facts and answer questions which the vast majority of clients wants to ask.

Should I panic and worry? Is my brand gone from Google?

No! Keep reading ;)

Do we have to do SEO differently?

No! Google Instant does not include ranking algorithm updates. However, this may change as soon as the search behaviour changes. It’s also important to monitor the traffic from generic search terms and review the keywords strategy using Google Suggestions if visits drop.

Do we need to optimise for partial words?

Absolutely not! Google is not showing results for partial queries as you type but for full search queries, e.g. if I type ‘jewellery s’ I get results for ‘jewellery shops’ not ‘jewellery s’.

Is everyone now using Google Instant?

No, but Instant will become the default search engine for all local search engines. At the moment Google Instant is available in France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the U.K (for signed in users only) and in US (for everyone). It’s important to note that if you’re signed in your result are likely to be personalised and based on your search and web history – this was the case even before Instant came along.

Do we need to change our keywords?

Not yet, do not throw away good rankings you’ve worked on so hard. Just keep monitoring the traffic from generic search terms (especially from Google.com) and as soon as any of them drop you must review your keywords. Note that your keywords and rankings may still be fine but as the search behaviour changes users may be typing search terms in the ‘wrong’ order, e.g. ‘bracelet silver’ instead of ‘silver bracelet’.

Does Google Instant affect long-tail keywords?

Very much so! Google’s idea behind Instant is to reduce the time spent on searching. Many users will now find more relevant results quicker therefore they won’t finish their query, and that sums this one up. Having said that, I personally believe that when people discover Instant’s full potential, get smarter and learn how to ‘drill down’ the search query then the long-tail may come back.

How will Google Instant affect my Google Analytics Data?

It won’t! The query for which results were suggested is still the one that is recorded in Analytics. There is no news on whether you’ll be able to see what partial query users actually entered before they got suggested result that led to the visit.

Will Google Instant affect my Google Webmaster Tools reports?

Oh yes! If a user stops typing, or pauses for at least 3 seconds while they are typing, you get the impression. This may mean that you’ll see a sudden increase in the number of impressions and decrease in organic click through rates.

Is Google Instant available on mobiles?

Not yet, but Google announced it will be rolling the feature out on smart phones this Autumn.