SEO, PPC and Google Instant Search

How will Google’s new Instant Search change what SEOs do?  Many in the SEO community asked if this was going to be the end of SEO as we know it.

According to Google, no. The results and how they are ranked will not change; they will just show up faster.  One boxes will still appear. Conversion data (km to miles, celsius to fahrenheit, etc) also appear in the results. So will mixed results for local, news image and other search results. As evidenced by the image at right, Google Instant will even correct your spelling on the fly and display the appropriate result set.

What the engineers will say, however, is that Instant will change how people search. On one hand, this may mean that people may look less past the first results page. On the other hand, many are saying that people will explore queries more and as a result, may find new sites.  That has some merit. However, if people “explore” the suggested queries, will they stop thinking on their own? Will they simply go with what is shown to them and will that assimilate all queries into one, unified result set?  I, for one, do not save my history, so I am – presumably –  not receiving personalized results.

Organic Is Safe. But What About AdWords?

AdWords will continue as normal. According to Wright, there will be “no change in how the ads are ranked or served.” During Q&A, a question was asked about ad impressions and how it will affect account. All the Googlers on the Q&A panel agreed that Google Instant will change how people will search and Google “will be changing what a search is.” For the purposes of displaying ads there are three factors as to what defines a “search” for the purpose of counting impressions:

  1. If a user pauses for three seconds after the instant results are displayed, the ads will count as a search and therefore an impression.
  2. Clicking the Search button (or presses enter), making the results “stick,” will count as an impression.
  3. Clicking any link on the instant results page will also constitute as a search and impression.

The Googlers were also very quick to point out that AdWords charges per click, not per impression. Google's eye tracking primary dataHowever, are people able to click on these ads as they scroll by?

The Google Instant announcement presented eye tracking research. In presenting their discoveries, Google said it takes users 15 seconds to scan the results and make a selection. Later in the Q&A, they stated a “search” in deference to ad impressions is defined as results that “stay” for three seconds.

We’ve also learned previously that click through rate (CTR) is part of the equation for what position on the page Google will place your ad. (Click through rate is the number of times an ad is clicked divided by impressions).

Presuming Google’s primary data are correct, there will be many “searches” and therefore impressions, since people take 15 seconds to view a page, will the multiple impressions hurt ad position. Subsequently will that presumed lower ad position further lower the CTR?

1 thought on “SEO, PPC and Google Instant Search”

  1. Man, that impression count is gonna mess up the search volume that the keyword tool shows. Not that it was accurate in the first place. :P. People are slow, and three seconds is not enough time to be taken as an impression, IMO.

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