Google Instant will force marketers to use shorter terms, say experts

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Google Instant, launched September 8 with the intention of quickening the search process for consumers, will force marketers to create shorter searchable terms on the Web, said industry experts.

“There will be more traffic for those shorter search terms,” said Augie Ray, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Google Instant allows consumers to get results as they are in the process of typing their search words at Google.com. Previously, Google required consumers to type in words and hit the enter key to receive search terms in the main body of the website.

Yet aside from accelerated speed, the search results themselves will be largely unaffected. However, the way consumers will search — using fewer terms — may cause marketers to shift their search strategies, said industry experts.

“Google Instant will challenge marketers to further refine their search optimization strategies,” said Lisa Arthur, CMO at Aprimo. “Not only will they have to have a laser-point focus on keyword and search terms, but it will require them to focus on shorter versions of phrases and words to gain the highest ranking.”

This will result in “long-tail” phrases getting pushed to the back of the line, said Sean Cook, CEO of ShopVisible.

“If, for example, I am searching for an 'HP Toner Cartridge for my M1522n printer,' as the results come up, I may only get to ‘HP Toner' before determining I have enough,” he said. “Sites like [discount office supply e-retailer] Viking.com that do extremely well in natural search will need to make sure they are optimizing not only for those specific…terms, but have a good strategy in place for coming up high for the generic terms as well.”

Added Neil O'Keefe, VP of multichannel segments at the Direct Marketing Association: “If, in fact, long-tail search is negatively impacted, marketers will be forced as they always are to find a way to elevate their brand to the top. The ‘psychic' element described by Google will likely reward those companies who do a good job at keeping their brand top of mind.”

Brands may now vie for even one letter to expose their paid ads, said Rob Garner, senior strategy director at iCrossing, a digital agency. He also said that the launch re-emphasizes the critical nature of search engine optimization.

“[There is the chance to] truly reach someone with what they are looking for, and the opportunity to click that ad has greatly increased,” he said. “Volume is the other question. There is a potential for a lot of exposures. But, we're looking at a different kind of change — stemming from words back down to the letters.”

Garner added that natural search optimization will become more important.

“The need to be visible across a wide variety of terms, [have] a greater breadth of terms and to be at the top of those terms is critical,” he said.

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