Usability-first Search Engine Optimization

Work in Search? Don’t Worry About Google Instant

Before the SEO world gets its collective panties in a knot about Google Instant‘s potential for putting us all out of work, it would be a good idea to remember why people use search engines in the first place: we want information suited to our specific needs.
Google Instant

Google states:

… “By predicting your search and showing results before you finish typing, Google Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search.”

Are those couple of seconds really saving time if results are too broad? I don’t see on-the-fly results as an enhancement; rather, as just another distraction en route to optimal search results. The real beauty of search is in specificity.

If searchers want to save 1 second in the query stage of search, they can easily omit a word or two from their search terms; but this is obviously counterproductive since a lack of search refinement costs time in the long-run.

Google continues with another supposed benefit:

Instant Results: Start typing and results appear right before your eyes. Until now, you had to type a full search term, hit return, and hope for the right results. Now results appear instantly as you type, helping you see where you’re headed, every step of the way.

Suggestions can occasionally be helpful; however, if someone is searching on Google for ‘cheap car insurance in Detroit’, they aren’t going to stop at cheap car or cheap car insurance just because Google is streaming results on a keystroke-by-keystroke basis for shorter queries. Search is all about the longtail.

In my opinion, Google Instant encourages sheep mentality: How will Google know what people are searching for if out of laziness, we click on their suggestions?

Ok, I’ll state the obvious

The more results that Google can throw in front of searchers, the more opportunity they have to display sponsored results. Enough said.

Why I’m not worried

Push marketing is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and in my opinion, Google Instant is unwanted noise—a distraction that I’ll be glad to have the option of ignoring or opting out of as an able search engine user.

And I don’t think I’m alone.