Every so often, a change in search engine practices brings on a new wave of panic. This will be the SEO killer. When Google Instant was launched in September of 2010, there was concern that the new feature, which shows results as you type, would affect keyword strategies in SEO campaigns, which would ultimately impact ranking on the SERPs. Has Google Instant become the search engine optimization killer it was feared?
No. That’s according to senior research analyst at Econsultancy, Jake Hird. The digital marketing firm regards Instant as an agent of change, to be sure, but the change is in improved user experience, not page ranking. Hird says, “We just put out our SEO buyers guide and although it is something to be aware of, it doesn’t actually change how the algorithms rank pages, that’s the key point that a lot of people overlook sadly.”
Among the more dire predictions in September 2010 was Steve Rubel’s prediction that Instant would make SEO “irrelevant.” He posted on Instant’s launch day, “Google today launched an ambitious effort to speed up searching. But what they really did is kill SEO.” He continued, “Google Instant means no one will see the same web anymore, making optimizing it virtually impossible. Real-time feedback will change and personalize people’s search behaviors.”
Has this been borne out? Search has become more customized, particularly with search engines like Blekko. But instead of killing SEO, real-time feedback has created an entirely new range of possibilities for websites and their optimization strategies. One example is the integration of social media results, which has led to more interest in social media optimization, or SMO.
Econsultancy’s Jake Hird points out that quality content, specific keywords, link building, and “that kind of stuff,” is still far more important in terms of ranking. “Because of that, [Instant] hasn’t really had any effect on how pages are ranked on Google – it just means that you might be served up a little bit faster, deeper, but I think the reason why they did it is just to enhance the user experience.” And not, apparently, to conspire to kill SEO.