In an announcement with much fanfare, Google has released an even faster, rejiggered version of their search engine called Instant. The basic idea behind it is to help you save time searching, of course. Before Instant you had to type in the search terms, click enter and hope for the right results. With Google Instant, suggestions for what you’re searching for show up in light grey while you’re typing them. You stop typing as soon as you see what you want, and the results will automatically update themselves. No clicking. With Instant, Google says you’ll save between 2-5 seconds per search. If everyone in the world who uses Google used Instant, we would collectively save 11 hours every second. Of course, the general population’s response was somewhere between “Well, that’s neat!” and “Who cares?”, but businesses raised plenty of concerns, worried that their precious Adword Campaigns were going to be affected by the surprising change. Google set them straight: Nothing about that changes. It’s all cool.
While the basic goals of the adword campaigns won’t change (you’ll still show up under the search terms you put yourself down for), the fact that Instant brings a level of depth to searching that wasn’t available before changes the game for some folks. Doug Stewart, of PowerToFightTheBigBoys.com says that Google’s decision will almost certainly affect the amount of traffic you get if you’re not taking certain precautions.
In his blog, Stewart lists a number of predictions about the effect that Instant will have on websites that aren’t up to snuff in terms of making their search results more personal and unique. A few of the more important ones are Less traffic to home pages, more traffic to interior pages and traffic to your website or blog will become more targeted. And one I didn’t see coming but should’ve expected: Brochure-style sites will become less effective.
What does he base this analysis on? After all – Instant has only been out a few days. But Stewart’s cautionary predictions aren’t based on information he’s already gathered about Instant, just what he expects to happen (and I agree with him) based on the way that Instant works.
Google Instant allows you to find a more exact match for your search with less effort on your part. Because of this, there will be less searches for generic things like “cars for sale” and more results for a more specific search, like “cheap cars for sale in Sapulpa”. The average business in the area – yes, even the ones locally – who have been relying on the same keywords as every other local business in order to get traffic is going to get blindsided because their site isn’t going to show up when people want something specific.
If you’re a small business in Sapulpa, how do you deal with this? Maybe you haven’t been selling things online, but have relied on your website to at least get your information out to the general public. There are a few things you can do to help ensure that your site still shows up when people begin to get comfortable with Instant.
Start getting your web presence unique. If you don’t have a blog, start one up and use it to address issues such as customer service, product availability, case studies, etc. I stress that you should use your blog posts to address specific incidents that actually happened. Google is going to help people search for the exact thing they need, so you need to be prepared to deal with it.
Step up your Internet Marketing Strategy. Get a fan page on Facebook. Also get Twitter if you have a smart phone. Once you’ve got your blog up and running, channel all of these through it. Use the places that everyone else is (like Facebook) to drive traffic to your corner of the web (your website). Be relentless about it. You’re an expert in your field and you need to make sure that others know it! To do that, you need to make sure that you show up when they’re searching for it. With Google Instant, you’ve only got a few seconds to make sure you’re still around for next few years.