Over the past week you may have noticed a small change in functionality when using the Google search engine. As you commence typing a word/phrase a dropdown will appear with predictive search terms. If you then click on a “search term” the normal Google results relating to that term will appear. This might sound like a basic enhancement but in actual fact could have a significant affect on visitors to your real estate website. In particular, those sites who wouldn’t normally receive visitors for certain search terms.
From the Google press release:
Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want.
When you think about this section of the press release “seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term” means a user is provided options before the usual google alogrithm used to rank sites according to SEO is reached.
As an example, if I am a browser and in my mind I was going to search for “real estate bondi”. When I go to Google and type in the words “real estate bondi” you will see that the first real estate agency to appear in the predictive autocomplete is “mcgrath real estate bondi”. Now, the first search term is “real estate bondi” so if I select this, the search results are domain, c21, ljhooker, raywhite, rea, homehound etc. What’s interesting is, that McGrath is not on the first page of search results but actually on the 7th page. So if i’d typed in my initial search term there is very little possibility a user would have found McGrath (on the 7th page). Through this new search method there is a very good chance I may have been enticed to click on the McGrath search term (in the predictive autocomplete) which would then display McGrath as the first natural google search result.
Here is an explanation Google provided in relation to the algorithm used to calculate the predictive autocomplete:
As you type, Google’s algorithm predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities. These searches are algorithmically determined based on a number of purely objective factors (including popularity of search terms) without human intervention. All of the predicted queries shown have been typed previously by other Google users. The autocomplete dataset is updated frequently to offer fresh and rising search queries. In addition, if you’re signed in to your Google Account and have Web History enabled, you may see search queries from relevant searches that you’ve done in the past.
This is a very significant change in relation to search functionality. As you can see from the example above, 1 week ago Mcgrath had no chance of appearing in a Google search for “Bondi Real Estate”, now they’re almost a certainty. If this new search trend is here to stay then SEO now has a whole other dimension and the SEO strategies of all businesses will need to be revised.