Well, Google is at it again: crunching numbers, improving “user experience”, and ultimately making even more money. They’ve rolled out a new feature in search apparently with the help of Bob Dylan…
Google Instant displays results as you type, as opposed to only after you hit enter or click the search button. It anticipates what you may be searching for key stroke by key stroke and displays auto-completed keywords and phrases based on what you type in a drop-down box below. At the same time, a page of search results display on the page and readjust letter by letter as your search term evolves. In addition, searches determine what those auto-completed words and phrases are. In other words, what gets searched for more will show up in the auto-complete more.
What does this mean for those of you who want your organization or business found in search results? Here are some cold hard facts and anticipated outcomes of the new search.
- Google has not changed the algorithm that ranks website; it has only changed the way results are displayed.
- Studies done by Google in developing this new feature showed that people paid less attention to lower search results, especially “below the fold” where you have to scroll to see what’s there.
- Impressions, for all your PPCers out there, are now counted differently: when you hit enter and results are displayed, when you click the search button and results are displayed, and when you stop typing for 3 seconds and auto-complete results display.
- Ranking in the top three organic positions will be even more important now as people’s tendencies as they scan the screen change to favor top results even more.
- Keyword cost-per-click rates will increase to adapt to the change in the market, i.e. higher valued real estate.
- Use of head terms will increase and head term impressions will also increase. Head or short-tail terms are braod general search terms like “beer” or “ballet” instead of “mexican microbrew sold in san diego” or “symphony hall concert tickets for tonight”, which are long-tail searches.
- Long-tail impressions will decrease, but the quality of long-tail PPC traffic will increase. Those people who ignore all the auto-complete stuff are use their own more specific search will most likely be more serious shoppers or more qualified leads.
Ultimately, I do think this will improve some people’s search experience, but mostly I think it will truncate search results for all those lazy surfers out there who are just as happy to select an auto-complete entry or one of those even more expensive top 3 results from those broad keywords.
Go give it a try and let me know what you think of the new feature. I’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions as well.