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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Search Results in an Instant

"Never underestimate the importance of fast." ~ Eric Scmidt, Google

In 2009, Google rolled out 500+ changes to their search engine in a quest to make it easier and faster to find what you were searching for. And, at 1 billion users per week, it's important to keep evolving with the web and the demands of the internet users. Of the hundreds of changes Google has already rolled out this year, today's announcement was the most progressive of their search evolutions yet: Google Instant.

Google Instant combines the recently released "Caffiene" which provides search results that are 50% fresher and Real Time results with their timelines and conversation views with the not so new "auto complete" function to produce SERP which are dynamic to the active search being typed into the box.

In a quest to make search "Fun, fast & interactive," Google's VP of search products Marissa Mayer compared what Google refers to as a fundamental shift in how people will search to the 1935 version of using a library or the 1950's version of research using a telephone. As opposed to taking hours to find out information, today it takes about 9 seconds for someone to enter a search, 300 milliseconds for Google to return optimal search results and 15 seconds for the user to choose among the results. With Google Instant, the search results are even faster as they are presented while you are actually typing in your search request, predicting what they think you are searching for.

Ironically, Google had somewhat predicted this evolution in 2000 as an April Fools day prank. Today that prank is a reality that saves approximately 2 to 5 seconds per search. While that may not seem like much individually, over the course of a week it saves Google users 11 hours for each passing second. The search engine actually gives live feedback in the form of auto-complete and SERPs as the search query is being typed into the search box.

Google Instant will be rolling out across the United States and several other countries today and will be accessible through Chrome, Safari, FireFox and IE8.

What does this mean to website owners in terms of search engine optimization?

Reading the various discussions around the internet immediately following the press conference (which I was able to attend via live feed on Google's You Tube channel), the opinions range from
"the death of SEO" to "business as usual." I think it's going to be somewhere in between, here's why:
  • You have to be signed in to Google ( your gmail or other google account) to take advantage of Google instant. For those users who don't have a Google account or aren't signed in 24/7 like me, they won't have advantages of the new roll out. So in that aspect, SEO is the same as it has always been.

  • For those users who are signed in it's going to be even more important that business come up above the fold and using predictive key terms. In other words, you absolutely must know how your website visitors find you and optimize for those terms.

    Because Google is using the auto-complete in conjunction with dynamic results, knowing the correct terms to optimize for becomes more important than ever. And while Google believes that people will learn how to "pull up" results from the bottom of the first page and beyond by refining the terms used, that initial search will still show the "cream of the crop."
In terms of preparing your website, just keep your end reswult and the visitors in mind. As the the Google philosophy states, "focus on the user and all else will follow." Got questions about Google Instant? Contact me!

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