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September 9, 2010


The Instant Google Went Instant

by Anthony Verre

Thought the SEO Sky was Falling Again?Everyone said everything is dead. Again.

Steve “SEO is Dead” Rubel led it off only minutes after the official announcement. (And, no, he does not get link for it) From there we were subjected to various other types of “dead”: paid search, analytics, long-tail keywords, short-tail keywords, etc.

It’s the status quo with the SEM community; if it’s new and foreign from a way of doing things, then the immediate reaction from the community is: IT’S ALL DEAD, MAN!  GOOGLE JUST KILLED IT ALL!

Those of us who know the score sat back and watched the house catch fire. People were screaming out for Matt Cutts to set the record straight on this (again, per usual).

So let’s set the record straight: it’s not dead. It won’t be dead. SEO will never die. If Google ever discounts site content and links, then, and only then, will SEO die. Since that isn’t happening, we’re all fine. Everyone ok on that? Great.

What Every Major Google Hub is Saying About Instant

Yes, that’s right, beyond Matt having to shush the SEO Chicken Little’s out there, Google’s 3 major hubs and Google itself put out official posts on how Google Instant will affect the resource.

1) Google on Instant

2) Google Analytics on Instant

3) Google Webmaster Central on Instant

4) Google AdWords on Instant

Can We Please Stop This NonsenseThis in No Way Kills SEO

Sorry. That’s the facts. If you step back for a moment, all GI (Google Instant) has really done is allow people to search faster and offer suggestions, or as The GOOG put it, “mind read”.

Fact #1: There was heavy personalization BEFORE this update

Yes, indeed. Google was helping you, and still is, by honing in your IP address and by search history. Not much has changed there.

Fact #2: Google Suggestions have been around as early as 2008

Again, nothing changed. Those suggestions that still appear below your query, Google helping you refine your thoughts before you hit enter, they’re still there. What has changed is that GOOG is tacking them in your actual query string now, guessing/mind-reading at what you might be looking for.

Fact #3: SERPs Are Still SERPs

Yes, I think the instant update also came attached with some algorithm tweaks. Anecdotal searches I’ve performed thus far tell they’ve tweaked some things; yes, I’ve seen upward and downward movement in my sites’ positions for business-centric keywords. That said, the SERP is still being constructed based on your site’s content, authority, relevance to the query at hand, and off-site SEO.

Why would GI want to mess with a good thing? This update just allows them to serve those SERPs faster.

What’s Going to be Different for SEOs?

A few things are going to change. Keyword research is a premium now. If you were lethargic and lazy about your keyword research prior to this update, you’re in for a real treat. It seems that the GI update, again only from anecdotal searches conducted thus far, that the long tail is much more of a priority and seems to be pushing users in that direction.

What that means? It means that a lot more users are going to be engaging in long-tail search terms. It means this update, is essentially teaching run-of-the-mill searchers how write better search queries to find their information. What I am not saying is that one and two-term keyword phrases are useless, I personally don’t think these will be as much of a traffic force in the coming months. Hence, if you’re an SEO, you better get your keyword data-sloshing boots on, cause’ it’s going to get thick.

The solid SEOs/SEMs out there are already doing this. The hacks will have to play catch up: actually have to consider the content they are putting on the page. Consider dropping in long-tail terms within pages, being strategic with content.

Keep Moving Forward.

Yes, I did. I stole this quote from Meet the Robinsons. The past is the past; let’s all take a moment to reflect on it. [Reflecting]

There. That was great. Now move forward. Google is always going to be innovating, for better or worse, well-thought out or not, and always for the next big payday. If our profession didn’t change, not many would stick around. We’re a dynamic bunch of people; we institute change for others, we strategize how to create dramatic change in conversions and profit online for clients, and change happens to us both professionally and personally.

Stop buying into this ridiculous rhetoric that “SEO is dead”, that the game is so radically different now. It’s not. Put your game face on, buckle down, and get to work.

  1. We have been debating the impact at our office ever since we saw this about a week ago. I have been on your side of the discussion – I see longer tail searches, will some of our team see shorter searches. Only time will tell for sure.

  2. Sep 9 2010

    I like that you mentioned this update pushing users towards long tail. Everything I was reading today had SEO’s saying it was a short tail game now, which I simply wasn’t seeing.

    My guess is that these guys are either clueless or they are simply seeing more of a push for short tail terms in their niche.

    Either way the only thing I think this really has an impact on is the impact of suggestion on the user. If SEO’s weren’t keeping in mind the suggest keywords before, they better get crackin’.

    • Sep 9 2010

      Mike and Arnie,

      I think long-tail is where the engine is heading, especially for consumer-driven purchases. Clearly, I don’t think that one or two-words will disappear all together, but I can’t see how they’ll still as effective as they once were. Every instant suggestion I’ve seen seems to be wanting the user’s query to go deeper and become more targeted and refined. Time will tell on this.

      And, Mike I completely agree that major instance of change is how Google is suggesting/influencing the user. If an SEO was TCB’ing it before this update, carving out great keyword research, sculpting and minding their onsite linking and content, and getting some authoritative, targeted links, not much will be changing in the SERPs for them, IMO. 🙂

      Thanks for the excellent comments Gents!

  3. Sep 10 2010

    Great piece, Tony. I agree with almost everything you said (especially about Steve’s non-existent link… I didn’t give him one either).
    The only point I might argue would be where you said, “If Google ever discounts site content and links, then, and only then, will SEO die.”
    I think the day isn’t too far off when we’ll see links discounted tremendously, and a major shift toward semantics as the single greatest factor in the algorithm.

  4. Sep 10 2010

    lol… i added a comment on my amplify to your story.. me thinks you might like it. =)

  5. Sep 10 2010

    I was laughing my butt off with all the SEO is dead crap, and I saw it coming. After being around the industry for over 7 years you will have lived through at least 8-10 instances of this. With every update, every change the Googs makes everyone freaks.

    Linking is the FOUNDATION of the G algo, and you know what happens to a house if you take out the foundation. It crumbles! Linking will never go away as a major ranking factor.

    I agree on the short tail increases. People will be offered advice on how to use short tail. Just as you said, Google is training people how to search. And this definitely does NOT speed up the search process and save everyone hundreds of hours as Google states. That is a misdirection by Googs. People will now have many more long tail search options and if anything will pause, read, and select from the suggest. That adds time! Anyone else agree?

    Also, the Google suggest was never based on search volume. I hear people talking about using it for kw research, and yes it has its place there, but it is not a tool to find kws with the highest search volume. Anyone else want to chime in on that?

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