With the release of Google Instant Search this week, many people are already proclaiming the death of SEO. This is short-sighted thinking at best and really doesn’t factor in what SEO really is or does. Rather than re-attempting to argue the point of SEO, please look over a recent post from industry authority Danny Sullivan, who published an editorial piece entitled “SEO is Here to Stay, It Will Never Die” on Search Engine Land this morning on the topic.

Google Instant Search is a Game Changer

Yes, the change to how Google displays its search results is going to shift some SEO strategies, but overall they are still the same search engine results (or SERPs) that were there last week. If you ranked for “small business financing” last week and someone starts typing “small business fin…” for instance, you should still have that ranking and hopefully get the click-thru.

Google is trying to help the user find what they are looking for more quickly – this is the intent of the new interface and real-time search results. They are not trying to bury the little guy, the mom-and-pop operation, or even kill off SEOs – they are simply trying to provide a better product for their users. It would be naive to think there are no profit/revenue intentions w/ the Instant Search changes either – Google is in the business to make money so you can be assured that the changes will not affect their ability to do so; in fact, they may increase their bottom-line. Only time will tell.

So What is Google Instant Search?

View the Demo/Announcement Below for More Information

Should You Be Worried About Your Site & Your SEO?

You should be educated and abreast of the changes, but overall you should continue doing what you’ve been doing – promote your site online via natural SEO strategie (content, links).

While the change is certainly a big one in terms of how the user will interact with Google, the SEO is still important – if not more important now. No longer can you rely on the user to enter a detailed, long-tail keyword search, because they are going to be presented w/ results much sooner. If one of those results is a match, they’re gone – having never typed in the full search they may have intended. So ultimately, it’s going to be more important to rank for the “core” keywords that the long-tail versions are based off of. The earlier you get displayed in the real-time results, the more likely your site is to get clicked on – especially if it’s relevant.

Having said that, you are definitely going to be facing new challenges and the results are going to be questioned even further. It’s critical that you’re able to get results and that your strategies are targeted at getting your website into the real-time results as early as possible (within the query as mentioned above).

Is SEO Dead?

Here are some of the better arguments of why SEO is not dead – that it will continue forward just as it has for the past decade plus.

From Google’s press conference (their responses to SEO questions):

Q: Impact on SEO?
A: Basically it stays the same. It’s still the same results, it’s just adapting to behavior.

Q: How will behavior change?
A: Ben: You could do multiple queries, you can quickly check tickets, reviews, etc. by scrolling up and down through search predictions. People are going to explore their topics of interest much more than they do today.

Another one:

Even if searches change dynamically, it will still be the most relevant searches that rise to the top, and increasing relevance has alwys been the ultimate goal of good SEO. That won’t change.
Source: http://mthink.com/revenue/blog/chris-trayhorn/has-google-killed-seo

And again, checkout the post from Danny Sullivan here.

Moving Forward & Embracing the Instant Search Revolution

Really, what this is about is continuing to optimize your website to show up for relevant keyword searches that your potential visitors & customers will be using. As stated previously, it will be essential for you to work on ranking more effectively for the high-level keywords that will generate search results before the user has completed their long-tail query (if they do at all). Tactics for improving these rankings include generating frequent, optimized content on your website, building backlinks utilizing the target keywords and generally doing better keyword research upfront & within your SEO content to ensure that you’re targeting the right keywords and that your search results are engaging enough to warrant a click-thru.

Upon testing some specific queries and observing some other tests conducted since the launch, the Universal search results are still fully in-play, as are location-based optimization strategies and also personalized search results. It is still important to optimize videos, news, images, blogs, e-commerce products and all other result types that show up in the search engine results.

Google AdWordsWhat About Google AdWords?

Another consideration for search engine marketers, and one that needs to be monitored also, is the impact the new search results will have on your Google AdWords PPC campaigns. Ad Impressions are no longer based on a single page of results being viewed, because the pages are loading & changing as fast as you type. Google has indicated there are now 3 ways that an Ad Impression will be processed – how these will affect your Quality Score & other performance metrics has yet to be determined, but you should be monitoring your reports for any significant changes.

How Google will count AdWords Impressions now:

  1. Your site is displayed in search results as a response to a user’s completed query (e.g. by pressing “enter” or selecting a term from autocomplete). This is the traditional model.
  2. The user begins to type a term on Google and clicks on a link on the page, such as a search result, ad, or a related search.
  3. The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds.