Google Instant Search: What it means for SEO

In early September, Google began to roll out its newest feature called Instant Search. It is a compelling new tool, and on  the surface seems to bring us one step closer to artificial intelligence. For those not familiar with Instant Search, the results populate below the search window and change instantly with each new letter typed. What does this mean for SEO? It means that descriptive, keyword-rich page titles are going to be even more important. The time that one has to capture a user with a compelling page title and description just got much shorter.

As users adopt Google’s Instant Search, their search behaviors may begin to change. The results are constantly updating below the search window as users type in each letter, so the 6-7 seconds that you typically had to capture a user’s attention just got a whole lot shorter. Page titles (which can be seen in  the top left corner of your browser or as the underlined text on the search results) really serve two purposes:  they tell the search engine crawlers as well as the user what that page is about.

Tips for writing page titles:

  • Keep to 70 characters or less. This is all that Google will display in their results, so any additional content will be truncated
  • Do keyword research. To craft custom page titles, you have to know what your customers are searching for.
  • Write for people, not for search engine crawlers. Ultimately it is humans that will (or will not) click on your search result listing.
  • Don’t try to be clever or creative as search engines are very literal. Tell them exactly what the page is about.
  • Lead the page title with your keywords and end with your brand. You are typically going to rank well for your branded keywords, so weight the page titles on the front end.

In addition to having quality in-bound links, writing quality page titles is a top factor in how Google ranks sites. Follow these guidelines, and you will see increased visibility in the results pages, which translates into more qualified traffic to your site. Whether or not Google Instant catches on with the masses is yet to be seen, but at the end of the day, writing quality page titles is always a best practice.

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