On Wednesday, Google released
the much-rumored and anticipated major change to its search. Google tends to make many small algorithm changes on weekly and sometimes daily basis, but this change was quite dramatic and will likely change Web business and how consumers use the Web in a number of ways. Here are ten of them.
1) Time Will Tell
It is usually wise to see how things play out. Right now we do not have that option, as Google Instant has only been live for two days. Google itself will change the product many times within the next few days, weeks and months to add many little improvements, so the Google Instant we are beginning to understand today, will not be the Google Instant which will live on and will see mass adoption from users (if it will indeed live on).
Google is the long-term winner with this, because Google Instant will enable Google to take a much larger revenue share from its ad inventory. People will be exposed to more search results and therefore more sponsored search results. That means there will be an increase in the click-through rate of the sponsored search results.
Microsoft will be a surprise winner in this because such a drastic change by Google will inevitably alienate some Google users and cause them to switch their search engines. Since Bing is the only large remaining search engine, most of the alienated Google users will flee to Bing. Overall, Microsoft does not have much to lose and a lot to gain because search is not its main business.
The search engine optimization industry will definitely suffer from the introduction of Google Instant, because the change in paradigm decreases the emphasis on search engine optimization. Publishers who use AdSense also lose out because they will have smaller-quantity and lower-quality ads left over to display due to the increased search-time ad-click-through rate of sponsored searches.
Quite importantly, people who have stopped innovating will lose. They will not be able to adapt to the paradigm shift if the shift's effects are negative on their business. Additionally, people who did not have diversified customer acquisition strategies, and have relied mostly on SEO, may also be at a disadvantage and in panic.
Pages that are displayed in Google results 5 through 10 are likely to see a small decrease in click-through because they appear below the fold of most screens. So while a user is refining their search a number of times, those pages are displayed but not seen, while the 1-4 search results are seen nearly all the time.
4) Will This Kill SEO?
Google has gone as far as putting out an official video talking about how this change will not kill SEO (Search Engine Optimization Industry) but the truth is that Google Instant will definitely have a large impact on SEO. It will de-emphasize some advanced tactics used by brilliant and creative search engine optimizers. But few core SEO themes will actually gain more attention.
Large part of SEO is link-building. A good link is one which increases the site's importance in the eyes of search engine algorithms. But a great link is one that increases importance in the eyes of search engines and drives traffic via the link. Moving forward such links will garner more attention and efforts. And that is probably a reasonable thing for the SEO industry to adapt to.
Unfortunately for the SEO industry, these changes put focus on the fact that SEO should not be relied on too heavily, and more attention has to be paid to diversification of traffic sources. Ultimately, this will de-emphasize the importance of many SEO techniques, and search engine optimization specialists. So while Google Instant definitely does not kill SEO, it highlights how fragile SEO efforts can sometimes be.
5) Why This Was Done
This improvement was a logical one after a number of previous innovations by Google, most notably Google Suggest, which was the auto-completion of popular search terms. Google provided a good explanation for innovation in that direction: increased speed of searching. Users have tended to voice additional concerns like "why is Google telling me what to search for?" and "what is in it for Google if I do the searches it suggests and not my own?"
Here are some thoughts on these topics. The suggested results are probably cached, so it is easier for Google to provide search results for them. For the environmentalists out there, the cached Google search is easier on the environment than the non-cached searches. Of course, Google Instant seems to have slightly changed that since it has to do a few searches before the person is satisfied with their query entry.
On a more important note than the environment, and that is money (just joking), the new way to display search results should have a direct impact to increase Google's revenue. With the addition of Google Instant, the person searching is definitely exposed to many more sponsored listings than they were before, which is likely to give an uptick in ad click-through rate for the sponsored ads. In addition, Google has to rely less on publishers (this may kill lots of blogs) to serve the ads as it will use up more of its own ad inventory.
6) Will This Improve Google Revenue?
As I have mentioned before, one obvious change will be that people searching will be exposed to more search results, and therefore more sponsored search results. This is likely to improve Google's revenue via increased click-through of the ads.