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Google Instant, What it means and Conspiracy Theories

Google hits the headlines again, this time for its latest update called Google Instant. Most of us have had nearly a week to digest its ramifications and implications. I spent a lot of time playing around with the search and reading what everyone else has to say about it. I think I have read every point of view from, SEO is dead we’re all finished, to it changes nothing. I think I fall somewhere in the middle.

Here are a couple of key points that Google have made about instant,
• It will knock 5 seconds off the average time it takes to enter a search query.
• Organic rankings will NOT change.

This is where I have issues, if Google thinks they are doing us a favour by helping us save 5 seconds I think humanity is doomed. Are they creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist? Did anyone ever think to themselves, “God this search query is taking ages, if I could do it 5 seconds faster that would be a huge help”. The SERPS haven’t changed for any of the keywords I’m tracking, so I can’t complain too much about that.

Some other comments I have read suggest that the long tails is dead, just like they said with the MayDay update, I’m not sure. The reason is simple, with Instant Google they are trying to predict what you are typing, what they should be trying to do is predict what you are looking for, the reason most people use long tails is because they are looking for something very specific, so by the time Google has correctly predicted what you want you are so far into your search query that it doesn’t really make much difference.
So far nothing has been earth changing but there are problems.

Getting top spot is now even more important. If you can dig out some heat maps of Google search results from a couple of years ago, you will see people were clicking all over the page, If you look at recent meat maps they have managed to corral people into predominantly clicking on the top 3 results.

It has always been important to get high rankings but now it is looking like; if you’re not number 1 you’re not getting the click. The combination of Google Instant and the sponsored search results pushes the organic SERPS right down the page, in a lot of the searches I have done, the only result that is left above the fold is the number one listing, Real estate on the first page was tough enough to come. Now it could be clicks that are going to get harder to come that are unless you’re number one.

This is where the conspiracy theory comes into play, 90% of Google’s revenue is generated from ad sales and if the Instant search is pushing all the organic competition down the page and only leaving the sponsored search results, logic says that they will get more clicks and more money in the bank for Google and as they are predicting search results based on what people have searched for historically, these keywords are the ones that advertisers are most likely paying more for, again more money in the bank for Google.

These are only my own theories once facts and figures start to emerge then we’ll all have a better idea of what lies ahead and how to take advantage of it. But there is one thing for certain, if this back fires and Adwords revenues drop Instant will be shut down faster than the 5 seconds they claim to be saving us.

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