Optimising for Google Instant

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Google Instant was developed to change the way we search as Google knows best. Judith Lewis, head of search at Beyond, looks at what ranking factors are now important and how to ensure your company gets to the top of Google.

Google Instant was a game changer before it was launched. With some video footage of the update in action released prior to its launch due to the need for testing prior to the press launch, the SEO (search engine optimisation) world was buzzing with speculation about how this update was going to change everything.

Google Instant completes search queries based on popularity, listing those, then changing the results delivered based on refinements made by the searcher. The launch of Google Instant is an attempt to ’optimise the 23 seconds people take to search’.

These 23 seconds relate the time people take to refine their searches. When entering in a search phrase, Google Instant completes the phrase you are entering for you (if you are logged on) based on the highest probable match and your search history.

Key Words
Optimising for Google Instant, which includes images, video, news, blog results, shopping results, books and more, is relatively straightforward. First and most importantly, select your keywords. All sites should have their top 100 pages mapped to one keyword/phrase per page. To check if the phrase being targeted has any search volume, Wordtracker, Google and other sites offer free or paid for tools. To access the free Google tool, go to Google advertising programs, select adwords, then without needing to log on there should be a link entitled “get keyword suggestions”. This will bring up the Google tool.

Targeted Terms
Next, search for targeted terms on Google, carefully observing what Google suggest is completing for the machine you are on and repeating the experiment on at least one other machine not used by you. This will show up whether the phrases are within the suggestions Google is now completing for searchers. If the phrases are not there, the keywords/phrases may need adjusting. When searching, also ensure the search results delivered are similar to the target web page.

Density
Once each page has had a keyword phrase mapped to it and that phrase has been checked for relevancy and visibility in the search results, ensure that the phrase appears in the text in at least a 2% density (2 – 4% is most readable though 5 – 7% is the usual suggestion). Employ semantically related phrases, make sure the title tag has that phrase first. Try and use that phrase as ’anchor text’ in links around the site and build links from other sites to that one utilising that keyphrase. If possible the keywords should be used in the page name.

Optimise File Names
Finally, ensure images on the page have been optimised to that keyphrase if appropriate by using the keywords in the file name, alt attribute and caption. Make sure any video footage used on the page has also been optimised for the keywords, and the chosen phrase is employed for each filename and every asset relating to that page including press releases, shopping feeds, etc.

Build Links
The main ranking factors can be broadly categorised as architecture or how a site is built, content or the words on the page and popularity or links.

The final piece of the puzzle is to build links into these deep pages with keyword rich anchor text through press release syndication, guest blogging, articles, etc.

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