Google certainly made a big splash in the news today with its implementation of “Google Instant,” a new Google search feature that instantly displays search results as you type your search query. This was such a big story that I decided to postpone my monthly passive income update until tomorrow (or Friday).
I am by no means an SEO expert, but as someone who dabbles in website creation and affiliate marketing, I wanted to weigh in on how I think this drastic change to the way people search could effect SEO and affiliate marketing, especially with respect to long-tail keywords.
The Real Impact of Google Instant
From a user perspective, Google Instant is both good and bad. It’s good because it may shorten the time you spend searching for a website. For example, you may be interested in “Florida beach vacations,” however you find a relevant search result when you’ve only typed “Florida beach.” Great, you’ve saved yourself a second (at most – unless you are an incredibly slow typer).
On the negative side, you’ve opened a whole new can of worms. You might want “Florida beach vacations” but find yourself seeing a search result that says “Florida beaches are terrible for fishing” when you’ve only typed “Florida beach.” It may interest you, and you’ll click it before you finish typing “Florida beach vacations.”
You could argue that this is a positive aspect of Google Instant. After all, you came across an article that is obviously interesting or relevant to you that you otherwise would have never seen if you only saw the results for “Florida beach vacations.” On the other hand, you’ve completely derailed your search, and may have extended the time you originally planned on your search for Florida beach vacation information.
The good and bad of this scenario is entirely debatable. The one thing that is for sure – if you’re a business that ranked high for “Florida beach vacations,” you might notice a dip in organic traffic because of all the people who were derailed on their way to that search string.
You might be tempted to ask, “Well what about the people who only wanted to type ‘Florida beaches’ but saw the suggestion for ‘Florida beach vacation’ ?” Well, I would argue that Google’s suggestion feature already existed prior to today, so this really isn’t anything new. Also, what if “Florida beach vacations” isn’t one of the few suggested items that appear when you begin to type “Florida beaches?”
The Impact on Long-Tail Keywords
This is where my real beef is with Google Instant, as I started to get into above. This new search process seems like it will likely harm the many blogs, articles, and websites that rely on organic traffic from long-tail keywords. No, it won’t be killed entirely, but I have trouble seeing how it won’t be somewhat reduced.
The bottom line is, people are now far more likely to find a search result that fits their needs before they finish typing a long-tail search keyword. Yes, this is Google’s intention – if they’re helping the user to find something they want more quickly, then they’ve enhanced the user’s experience.
I’ll go one step further and say that certain long-tail keywords that once brought in a reasonable amount of organic traffic will see a huge decline in that traffic. Let’s take a look at an example:
You want to set up a niche affiliate site for selling kitchen appliances, that you plan to use in conjunction with Amazon’s affiliate program. You notice there’s one keyword that has some reasonable traffic – “kitchen appliances online.”
Your next check is to see if KitchenAppliancesOnline.com is available – after all, this is how you’re going to get a big boost in the search engine results. Viola, is it! (It actually isn’t, but assume it is.)
Enter Google Instant. If someone is looking for kitchen appliances online, guess what? As soon as they have typed kitchen appliances, they will already see incredibly relevant results. Sure, some will still finish it by typing the “online” part, but I would predict that many will not.
So What Can We Do Now?
Time and data are our friends. As with any change Google makes, people will adjust their optimization techniques. Furthermore, we need to wait and see how the traffic changes for long-tail keywords by monitoring the Google Keyword Tool. I’m not sure how often they update their search statistics.
SEO isn’t dead (obviously), but it’s changing for sure. Those who rely completely on long-tail keywords will suffer a bit (my prediction), and those who were strong for more competitive keywords may get even stronger. Being near the top of page 1 on Google also just became more important. Try a search with Google Instant and you’ll see what I’m talking about – you now need to scroll down to see results that you could previously see without scrolling down.
All we can do now is wait and see. I’m interested in what you think, so please leave a comment.
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