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Google Instant

by Kath Dawson on March 9, 2011

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Around a year ago, Google introduced their new database architecture, Caffeine. This changeover was done for several reasons, the first of which was to allow Google to continue to index all of the web in years to come, and the second of which was revealed last week: Instant.

The main issue with Instant, from Google’s perspective, is that it generates between 7-10 times the volume of searches per second than the previous version, as Google loads search result pages constantly as people are typing. With the expected rollout of this into browser bar-based searches (like the Chrome bar, the Google toolbar etc), this will almost certainly expand steadily from only appearing to logged-in users, to being the default state for Google.

Ten Blue Links?

So, the main upshot of the changeover to the Caffeine system is that it allows for vast amounts of real-time data to be added to the index almost as fast as it’s created. But what does this mean in terms of rankings?

Well, in short, it allows fresh data to be displayed to users much more rapidly. As a result, we’ve seen greater emphasis on results featuring video, location-based services, news items, personalised results and the like over the last year. This has had the effect of changing the strategy for SEO in certain industries, as it has created new avenues for search marketers to reach their intended audiences.

Instant Coffee Anyone?

A lot has been written about Instant over the last couple of days, some of it accurate, some of it less-so. To save time, I’ve compiled some basic takeaway points as to the nature of Instant, what it brings to the table, and how it affects SEO and PPC.

  • Does Google kill SEO? No, but it does change keyword research slightly, as marketers need to pay greater attention to the suggested keyword searches
  • Negative keywords need to be paid closer attention to in PPC, as a search for “U2 new” will return results for “U2 new album”, where a user might type their full query as “U2 new zealand tour dates”
  • PPC ad impressions will only count when:
    • the user clicks anywhere on the page after beginning to type a search query
    • the user chooses one of the predicted queries from Google Instant
    • the user stops typing and search results are shown for at least three seconds
  • The nuts and bolts of how SEO is conducted on-site and in linkbuilding hasn’t changed
  • The nuts and bolts of how PPC is conducted hasn’t changed either, although it is now pretty much the only good way of getting impression data for search volume numbers for keywords. Keyword tools will soon be relegated to being only useful for generating keyword ideas, not for estimating volume

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About the Author

Kath is Creative Director at Strategy Digital, leading a team of very talented writers, designers, creatives and outreachers. She loves stretching her skill set and learning new things and is currently a student journalist and a budding photographer. Kath can always be found hanging out on Google+, so stop by and say hi.

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