Will Google Instant Change The Longtail As We Know It?
Recently, I was on Maui (I know…I live a tough life) helping top Wailea real estate agent, Dano Sayles, get up to speed with Hawaii Life’s back end tools. While I was there, I had the pleasure of meeting Dano’s web developer, Brad Carroll, CEO of Dakno Marketing. After a long day of work—then drinks and sushi at some of South Maui’s local hot spots—Brad and I retired to our townhouse at Hoolei. We stayed up late into the night, sharing real estate website & SEO ideas and current thoughts.
One of the more interesting discussions centered around Google Instant. I have to give Brad credit for starting the conversation by asking, “How do you think Google Instant will affect the long tail (keyword searches)?” This was a very smart question and soon my mind was racing…
If you read Drew Meyer’s article, he references a bit of speculation by Steve Rubel, that Google Instant will kill SEO. What we have to remember is that the game is always changing, and if you don’t change with the game somebody else will—and you lose business. But that’s why you’re here reading the GeekEstate Blog learning about technology instead of buying expensive print ads in archaic real estate magazines. So, as an optimist—and somebody always looking for game changers to crush my competition with—let me share with you how I see Google Instant and SEO.
We can all agree that, “users may become trained to think differently, and how they approach formulating search queries may change.” As stated by Eric Enge at SearchEngineWatch.com. I can attest that it’s already happened to me. So the first thing we need to do is understand this “change” in user behavior.
Let’s imagine a potential client as they begin to type their search query into Google. As soon as the first few characters (or words, depending on how fast you type) are entered, Google begins to suggest keywords and predicts what the user is searching for—displaying search results accordingly below. 1 of 3 scenarios is happening next:
- The user continues typing in their search as normal.
- The user views the suggested keywords and chooses one.
- The user chooses from one of the predicted search results below.
The first scenario doesn’t interest us as nothing has changed. The next 2 scenarios are the game changers, but why are they important and how do we use them to our advantage?
Google suggestions, in the second scenario, have been around for awhile, but somehow I find myself using these suggestions more often since the launch of Google Instant (possibly a usability improvement). Here, the importance lies in the fact that Google is leading you down a path. Instead of choosing your longtail keyword at random, you are choosing a longtail keyword suggested by Google. So 2 things are happening:
- A large set of longtail keywords that were once being searched for every so often, are now not being searched for at all.
- A smaller set of longtail keywords that Google is suggesting are now being chosen more often.
In a sense, Google is eliminating some longtail searches and making other longtail searches more popular.
The third scenario is very similar to the second scenario, except the user is just going with the first search Google suggests. Often times this means you’re choosing a head term (popular keyword), but not always. It’s important to point out that many times, especially with fast typers like myself, people are getting in 2-3 words before Google Instant kicks in. So, in many cases, long tail keywords are the first thing Google suggests.
So now that you know the “why”, I think it’s pretty easy to see how we can use this to our advantage. If not, let me spell it out for you. Start doing a bunch of searches related to your business and build a keyword list off of what Google is suggesting. Booyah! Google is basically telling us what keywords we need to rank for, and now you’ve instantly increased traffic to your website. Well, that is, if you know how to rank for keywords.
If you think about it, it’s pretty easy to see that Google Instant is already changing the longtail as we know it.