With the release of Google Instant, the inevitable cries of “SEO is dead” went up once again but Judith Lewis, head of search at earned media consultancy Beyond, explains there’s a lot more than meets the eye to the new initiative.
I would argue that Google Instant has made SEO (search engine optimisation) as essential as breathing.
It is the latest update to the Google search engine, already available on Google.com and soon to be available in the UK, Australia, Canada and other non-English countries. It is more of an engineering update than an algorithm (web page ranking methodology) update, so webpage ranks would not be expected to change.
Google Instant, the next release after Google Caffeine and possibly related to the drinking habits of the engineers at Google, was a concept started by an engineer in Israel. This engineer had an idea and it grew, attracting a massive, multi-country engineering team whose purpose seemed to be creating something psychic – a search engine that knew when you typed in “orange” or “java” or “reading” what you actually meant. While Google isn’t actually psychic, it is going to change search behaviour.
Google Instant uses historical search queries, plus your own search history, to predict what you might be searching for. Google Instant’s AJAX interface then delivers those results after only a fraction of a search phrase has been entered. This result, based on personalisation and searches from other searchers, is an attempt by Google to optimise the 23 seconds a searcher spends contemplating what they are looking for. Personalisation has been around for awhile and is the presentation of different search results to a logged in searcher, based on their search, and click behaviour.
This change to the delivery of search results, far from rendering SEO obsolete, has made the correct optimisation of a webpage vital. No longer can a site survive below the fold on the second page. If a webpage is not being displayed above the fold on the first page, searchers are likely to move on.
SEO is a specialist skill and while there are steps every business can take from using an SEO friendly CMS through to understanding what keywords they need to use, the optimisation of titles, on-page text, linking structures, site architecture and related SEO elements should be checked by a professional.
There are a number of sites on the web dedicated to SEO and making available as much information as possible, they are: Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, SEOBook, Econsultancy, SES Magazine and Search Engine Journal. There are many others but these top my list as reliable resources of information. In addition to these sites for the more geeky researcher, SEO by the Sea offers a look into the various patents filed by search engines and what this technology could mean for the future of search
Old, sloppy SEO may be dead but proper search optimisation, in a country like the UK where 90% of searches happen on Google, is now king of the castle.