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Google Instant: Fewer Changes to SEO than the Average Algo Update

Posted by randfish

Ugh… Part of me just wants to link to this old blog post and leave it at that.

But, since there’s actually a bit of data to share helping to show that (at least so far) Google Instant changes less than your average algorithmic rankings update, let’s share.

880,000 Search Visits Analyzed

Conductor released some nice research from anonymized data of sites on their software platform making a compelling case:

Search Term Keyword Length for Visits Post-Google-Instant
If Conductor keeps putting out this kind of stuff, they’ll be a "must-read" in no time

Hmm… Looks pretty darn similar to me. A tiny increase in 4, 5 and 6 word phrases would seem to go against many of the prognostications and fears that this move would decimate the long tail (though, to be fair, plenty of savvier search folks predicted a slight increase as Google’s "Suggest" function would be more obvious/visible to searchers and push them to perform more specific queries).

Data from 10,000 More Searches

Matt Bennett at MEC blogged some data from 5 sites in his purvue representing about 10,000 searches. He shared this excellent graph (similar to the one above):

That’s more evidence to suggest this is a very subtle change (if there’s any at all) in keyword demand.

Google Search Traffic for SEOmoz & Open Site Explorer 

While I don’t have as much data to share as Conductor, I can show you some tidbits from SEOmoz.

Here’s SEOmoz.org’s traffic from Google in the past week compared to the week prior:

SEOmoz.org's Traffic Pre-and-Post Google Instant

 

And here’s a similar look at OpenSiteExplorer’s Google traffic:

 

OpenSiteExplorer Traffic Pre-and-Post Google Instant

 

There’s a suspiciously small amount of change in the keyword demand, and although these are certainly un-representative of the broader web, we can be relatively confident that lots and lots of folks in our industry, performing queries that might lead them to these two sites, have awareness of and are using Google Instant.

One change that did catch my eye (thanks to some Tweets on the topic) is that Google’s Suggest itself seems to have changed a bit:

Querying for SEOmoz in Google Instant

Hard to complain about that :-)

Other Sources Worth Reading on the Topic

I was a bit dismayed to see so many in the SEO field taking this as a serious threat or even touting the massive "changes" that would be coming soon to SEO best practices or even search query demand. We’re usually pretty good about shrugging off Google’s pressbait around technical changes that don’t have much of an impact, but this one seemed to have more legs than usual.

That said, there are a few pieces I think warrant a read-through (or at least, knowledge of):

Very much looking forward to the discussion, but I’m leaving for Social Media Week Milan and will be hard pressed to contribute at normal levels until my return next week. Until then – Buona notte!

p.s. If you have data to share on how Instant has or hasn’t impacted your traffic-driving queries, that would be awesome. If you blog/upload it, we’ll be happy to update the post with links.

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