Do You Need to Change Your SEO Efforts for Google Instant?

Google unleashed a relatively major update to its monstrous search engine recently, Google Instant. Promising to cut precious seconds off of search times, Instant displays possible queries as you type. So if you were to type “search en…” Instant may display “search engine optimisation,” along with relevant results.

If you really meant “search enjoyment” (for whatever reason), you can obviously keep typing to get results most relevant to your intended search. According to a recent poll of Gizmodo readers, the update is popular; about three-quarters of respondents liked the change and did see a difference in speed. But do SEOs like it, too?<!–more–>

One challenge that Instant poses for SEOs and website owners is the Preview option. Next to each search result, you will notice a small magnifying glass icon. If you click on this, you get a small scale image of the site. This can be tremendously useful because you can preview it before deciding if it is the most relevant site without having to click through. But this may also be a problem for websites. Previously, that searcher would have clicked through to your site. Now, he is simply looking at a preview on Google. The site needs to work that much harder to get a searcher to opt to enter.

If you have a beautiful Flash-oriented webpage with great content, what searchers will see with the preview is a black rectangle. If you have a text-heavy page, searchers will see only the image of words but not be able to read them because of the miniscule size. Not every page needs to be optimised for Instant Preview per se. It is helpful though to take a look at your site and decide if you can boost its appearance without affecting relevant content that your visitors want. For instance, are your headings large enough to read from Preview? If a searcher can see the broad strokes of what your page is offering, it increases the likelihood he will click through.

You will also want to reconsider your page layouts. Do they look good on a small scale or at least give a potential visitor enough information so he’ll know if the site is relevant? Is it appealing? Do you have accurate and descriptive titles and headings? Are the colors, background, and spacing clear? Do you have eye-catching graphics? If not, do you have anything to instantly engage the searcher?

Advances like Instant and Preview are helpful to searchers; websites have to keep up in order to keep themselves in the game. Looking at your site through a smaller scope can help you create a Preview-friendly page.

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