Google Instant does change user search behaviour

by Peter Young on September 22, 2010 · 1 comment

There was a fascinating read on TechCrunch this morning from Eli Feldblum,the CTO & Co-Founder of RankAbove. Since the release of Google Instant just under two weeks ago, there has been a lot of coverage as to the effects of Instant on search behaviour and the impact it may have on paid search and SEO as a whole. The study itself analysed a number of different potential impacts of Instant, and tested them in a ‘live environment’ with some surprising results

Source: Slashgear

Results on the first page is even more important
Surprisingly the research suggested that users were not as ‘fold’ conscious as many people expected. The study suggested that users in fact were more likely to scroll down the results page on completion of a query, however these users were less likely to go onto the second page. Results that sat just below the fold showed little difference in terms of traction.

We must bear in mind here that the difference between the top two or three positions and five is fairly big in terms of potential CTR, however the fact that Instant would appear not to have impacted too heavily on such real estate will come as a relief to many. What this may do however is increase competition on already saturated ‘jackpot’ serps.

Long tail is significantly affected by Google Instant
Many people have suggested that one of the major impacts of Google Instant would be on the way people searched for their information. In particular, given the way suggest works that people would be more inclined to follow these suggestions now that they could see the results propogating as well. The study suggested that there was good reason for these concerns with Eli stating as follows:

So far, this one is coming true in a major way. While organic traffic levels have risen about 5% for all Drive users since Instant was introduced, keyword variety has fallen more than 15%! Thousands of phrases are no longer driving any traffic, but most sites aren’t suffering for it.

It is worth highlighting that recent figures I have seen suggest only 2% of users are actually seeing Google Instant however all the same this could be a real game changer both in terms of organic and paid search alike. Whilst some of this may merely mean realignment of long tail focus – one can’t help thinking there are a number of organisations whose search strategies may have to change significantly as takeup of this increases.

Google is growing up
Google Instant has often been ridiculed over its apparent lack of maturity as regards showing adult related searches. Further to this many people have suggested that there would be little change in the volumes pertaining to adult phrases. The study debunked these theories significantly, suggesting that they had seen a significant uplift in phrases containing the word ‘sex’ , with slightly less identified on other mature phrases.

I would highly recommend reading the article in full, where further stats relating to the study and Eli’s recommendations on remediation can be found.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tom Altman September 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Not yet…at least. :)

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