Postscript: This post has been revised for Google Instant… please check Google Instant and SEO, How Things Change.
The Google Suggest feature, long a part of Google labs has behavior that will feel familiar to most readers of my blog. But for the remaining millions of casual users, which Michael Jensen refers to as the “Grandma Factor“, we may see some changes in search behavior. Now, a rumor once again has emerged that we’ll soon see it on the default Google search page in the USA.
As PPC marketers we will want to remain aware of the phrases that are suggested for our “money terms” and bid accordingly. Phrase match and Exact Match will start to become more important in many cases as Suggest “structures” the queries.
According to onestat, the 10 most used numbers of word phrases compared to October 2007 in search engines on the web are here…
|#Words||I predict after Suggest||June 2008||October 2007|
I think that Google Suggest will shift these numbers quite a bit, and with it, the need to react as search marketers.
A few other thoughts.
- We May See More Traffic to Regional Sites. People regularly enter “cheap gas” and “best dentist” in search engines – without qualifying the searches at all. Organic results tend to send people to national portals, but suggest-driven search gets them closer to well optimized, regional sites. A search for “cheap gas” without search suggest offers gasbuddy.com at number one organic result, while a “suggested” search for “cheap gas houston” gives houstongasprices.com.
- Google Suggest Drop Down a new micro “SERP”: Those who make their way into the suggest feature get a “better than #1” position. For example, typing “ipod case” into Google with Suggest shows the first suggested feature as “ipod cases at Wal-Mart” – grabbing people and then offering up the organic page free from PPC ads that use “Wal-Mart” in their keywords.
- Google Suggest Results May Change Long-Tail Search Optimization. Those of us who believe in doing long-tail marketing may find an decrease down the tail from search, and a greater need to develop segments of our site to serve those long tail queries. Searches that used to come in with two word phrases may now have 3-4 words, which helps with medium-tail optimization, but longer phrases previously further down the tail may be “clipped.” This will concentrate search terms so that Adwords bids will rise and competition increases in a sort of “cluster” effect.
- Google Suggest SERPS offer More Impact for Trademark Blocking in PPC. If your tradename is offered in Google suggest results, and you’ve filed a trademark complaint form, the results page will be free from paid competition giving you a better shot at the traffic through organic or ppc links.
- Google Suggest Can Improve User/Searcher Skills Forever. With Google suggest constantly popping up when you go about your daily queries, many who never really thought of keyphrases will now start to think about them. It will be a constant reinforcement of our efforts to think about how consumers search. We may have to adjust our planning to meet these enhanced skills.
- Google Suggest Can Be an Ad-Hoc Negative Keyword Tool. There are other ways to be more comprehensive, but Google suggest can help to identify negative keywords you may want to enter in your campaigns. And I saw some negative phrases with higher index numbers that never showed up in Google keyword tools.
- Dramatically Reduced Spelling Error Opportunity. While many of us set up adgroups to capture spelling errors, this will have a decreasing impact as people start to use the suggest feature as a live auto-correction. Typo-campaigns may get less traffic.
- Hijacking Google Suggest May Become a SEO Technique. It may become possible to hijack Google suggest so that competitive phrases are strategically flashed to the user. For example.. if you sell “abc widget” then a suggest of “abc widget fails miserably” could be used to divert traffic.
- Better Searches Offer Improved Analytics Information. With the user making clear choices among those available, we’ll have better information about what is enticing and engaging to the users. Vague, high volume two-word searches are always confusing when we’re looking to make decisions, and this might just help us plan better.
I think that this will have a measurable impact on how people search – possibly forever.