The has been a considerable amount of nonsense sprouted over the last few hours about the impending doom of search engine optimisation as a viable service in the wake of the roll-out of Google Instant.
Naysayers claim that search engine optimisation is irrelevant now, or that the long-tail is dead. But I couldn’t disagree more.
First of all, search engine optimisation is not dead. Google Instant does not change how Google crawls, indexes or ranks a website – the primary reasons for undertaking search engine optimisation in the first place. Sites still need to compete against each other for popular keyword searches in order that they can acquire traffic from Google.
In fact, as it is now much easier and quicker for a searcher to refine a search and edit what they searched for, it is now more important than ever to appear in the first few positions for important keyword phrases than it ever has been. The search engine optimisation industry should now be more vital than ever!
What will change is that users are able to refine and specify their search much more easily, and so users are much more likely to continue to refine their search until one of the first few results on a page is relevant to what they are searching for. Far from being dead, the long-tail search is going to come into its own!
Google claims that Google Instant is going to save the world 11 billion hours a year that people will spend not searching. I think it is more likely that users will learn to search in a different way. They will save time, but they will search more and search around topics to find the information they want. People will be less willing to accept the first information they find about a subject, and will retrieve and digest information more than before.
Ecommerce sites will need to become more competitive. Those with niche markets will be able to serve those niche markets, but it will become more difficult than ever to break into already busy markets, such as MP3 sales, groceries, perfumes, and gadgets.
Usability test at Google, including eye tracking, determined that user focused on the search box first until their suggested search was close to what they were really looking for, then their eye would scan the first result (or sometimes the first two or three results) of the organic search. If the exact thing they were looking for was not in those first results, their eye would go back to the search box, and they’d refine their search and go through the same process again, until finally they would find an exact match for what they were searching.
On the whole, users’ eyes did not scan to sponsored results until the subject matter in the organic results was close to what was being searched.
Consequently, sites that run Adwords campaigns need to ensure they are managed properly. Broad-brush, short tail search Adwords campaigns will become less effective and those which carefully manage long-tail will do better.
As in nature, the fittest will survive. And, as in nature, that doesn’t necessarily mean the strongest, but actually those more adaptable to change.
Search marketing, both organic and paid is changing, and those who do nothing may be those who do die.