Just like the instant version of coffee, Google Instant has ‘freeze dried’ the flavour of search and reformed it in a more immediate format. But, just like instant coffee, what you get is a poor imitation of the ‘real thing’.
‘It’s even better and it saves you time’ goes the Google Inc. mantra, yet we’re not convinced. Not really that sure at all.
At best it’s a ‘because we can’ approach to generating a little more publicity (if Google did, indeed, need that) and differentiation from the competition – because from what we can see, the only thing it does successfully is to distract as you type!
But, as always, we need to be careful not to pre-judge. Google has the sleight of hand of a magician – as you watch the bunch of flowers, the other hand is doing something a lot more interesting.
The ‘billion dollar’ question is:
“How does it affect Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click marketing?”
In the short term, on sites we work for, there is little effect on traffic. Levels are about the same as they were.
This doesn’t mean, however that there is no impact. We need to recognise that only a proportion of searchers are using it (you need to be logged into your Google account and be using Google in the browser window, not from the toolbar), and it will take time for those using it to adapt to how it operates.
Our view for what it’s worth is that it is mainly a defensive manoeuvre from Google because of two areas of weakness.
Firstly, whilst the top 3-4 results on a page have traditionally been strong, the rest is increasingly being filled with makeweight sites who are strong in SEO practices, but weak in valued content.
Secondly, because the web is placing more emphasis on recency of content and social networking, Google is also trying to set the ground for a more immediate experience.
Google is also setting the scene for what we’re confident is a tightening on Pay Per Click. They have been generous in offering a ‘long tail’ for a period of time, but all this means is that the yield is on average lower from the page as less valuable adverts are clicked.
Expect them to start shortening the list of advert results and also by encouraging searchers not to finish long-tail searches, they also are hoping that users will click on the more competitive, higher-traffic terms.
Let’s see how the rest of the year pans out. Will Google make all searches Instant? If they can, almost certainly they will!