How Google Instant May Affect Your Resort's SEO and PPC

Posted on Sep 16th 2010

Last week, Google unveiled Instant—a new search interface that provides real-time suggested results as keywords are entered into the Google search box.

But the main question is: how will this change affect your resort?

Will Google Instant “Kill SEO” or Impact Rankings?

The basics of Google search are the same, including how results are ranked and how Google determines relevant results.  As long as people use search engines (like Google) to search for information online, that content will need to be optimised. A well-rounded approach to content development and optimisation should actually benefit from Google Instant. Google Instant can possibly impact how users search and find valuable information and/or the products and services they’re seeking. But if your content has been optimised correctly, Google Instant shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.  You must take note of which keywords, or in this case keyletters, to use in your content.

Why? Well, users may not search the same way as before.  For example, before Google Instant, the keyword “Gold Coast” would probably perform poorly for hotel chains because the term is too wide.  People will need to add additional keywords such as beachfront with free WiFi, downloadable maps, cheap flights or tourism news. Now with Google Instant, a person won’t have to type all those keywords completely as Google Instant will automatically suggest choices for you with every letter.  So if you type “Gold Coast h”, there will probably be results that are pertaining to hotels.  And as such, the user will stop completing the word and click on the relevant links.  So with Google Instant, it’s possible that long-tail queries (those long phrases you type in the search field; e.g. best beachfront hotel in Gold Coast with free WiFi) may no longer be necessary.

This search innovation may also lead to higher impressions (in Google Webmaster Tools) for your web pages as they move in and out of Google’s search results as people type. For example, eTourism’s site may appear in the search results as a person types “eTourism Australia” but it will disappear if that query becomes “eTourism social media workshop”

Google has just published an explanation of how impressions will be counted with Google Instant:

    * the traditional count method – when your site is displayed in search results after a completed search
    * if the user begins to search and then clicks any link on the search results page, including an ad or “related search” suggestion
    * if the user stops typing and the search results appear for at least three seconds

Will Google Instant Ruin My PPC Ads?

Google says ads are now being shown for predicted queries, and the ads will change as searchers continue to type.  Ad impressions will only count in three situations:

    * the user clicks anywhere on the page after beginning to type a search query
    * the user chooses one of the predicted queries from Google Instant
    * the user stops typing and search results are shown for at least three seconds

Additionally, you should not be concerned whether Google Instant can negatively affect your PPC Ads. Google assured us that it won’t. For example, resorts in Gold Coast would expect more conversions bidding on “Gold Coast 5-star Hotel” vs. “Gold Coast”. Bidding on “Gold Coast” would surely bring in lots of clicks, but the cost per conversion can be too high. Cost per conversion is the cost of acquiring guests, which is calculated by dividing the total cost of an advertising campaign by the number of conversions such as leads, sales, or bookings.

Now with Google Instant, that changes. With our example above, starting the query with “Gold Co” shows ads for Gold Coast. Some of those ads are for hotels. Why would a user continue typing if they see hotel ads already? As an advertiser this will force resort managers to bid on “Gold Coast” to compete. And because more people want that particular keyword, Google can earn more. Advertisers may not need to bid on long-tail keywords. Users may never even get to “Gold Coas…” much less “Gold Coast 5-star Hotels”, “Gold Coast hotels beachfront”, “Gold Coast hotels downtown”, etc.

In the end, it’s the Google users’ response to Instant that we have to continuously look out for. To make your SEO and PPC more effective, resorts should monitor the adoption rate of Instant and consider important factors such as people searching right from their browser search box or from the Google Toolbar.

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