SEO is Dead and/or Irrelevant With Google Instant?
According to Steve Rubel, Google Instant means the end of SEO. He writes that “Once a single search would do the trick – and everyone saw the same results. That’s what made search engine optimization work.”
Oh Steve. That’s not what makes search engine optimization work. That’s not what true search engine optimization is at all. Here’s what makes search engine optimization work and why Google Instant isn’t the death knell.
- Everyone searches. Google said today that they get 1 billion searchers a week. People search a lot. So it’s important to be visible in search if you want to connect with your audience.
- A big part of SEO is ensuring that your technical site architecture can be crawled and indexed by search engines and the content can be extracted. If the infrastructure isn’t search-friendly, your pages may not be available in the index for searchers to find.
- Another big part of SEO is understanding the needs of your audience: what their problems are, what they are looking for, what tasks they are trying to accomplish, the language they use. Search data is awesome for finding these things out and better building products and content.
But the biggest misunderstanding of Rubel’s post is that SEO is about optimizing for a single query and that everyone saw the same results until now. In reality, searchers have been seeing different results for a really long time. Personalized search in particular has been increasing over time, causing everyone to see something different. And Google Suggest has also been around forever, so the idea of prompting refinements as the searcher types a query also isn’t new.
Sure, searchers may tweak their queries in real time, but they aren’t going to fundamentally change what they’re looking for. If I’m looking for a restaurant in Seattle, I’m not going to see results for “relaxing vacations in Mexico” and decide to go to Cabo instead of out to dinner.
I’ve always advised looking at audience needs and building a site that addresses them holistically rather than fixating on ranking for a single keyword phrase. And that strategy continues to be a sound one in light of Google Instant. Rubel says it will make “optimizing virtually impossible”. But the reality is that building valuable sites that meet searcher needs will only continue to grow in importance.