The search marketing industry is abuzz on the heels of Google’s announcement that Google Suggest, previously available through Google Labs, is now a default feature on the Google home page.
Google Suggest offers search term suggestions in real-time as you type a query, and ranks these suggestions based on the most commonly searched phrases. So if you intend to search for the phrase “Dallas Cowboys,” you may only get as far as “Dal…” before Google steps in and offers to complete your query for you.
From a user standpoint, Google Suggest is a welcome addition to the already incredible functionality of the most utilized search engine in the world. Gone are the days when we had to (gasp!) type in a complete search term before getting instant access to an incomprehensible heap of information related to the topic, much less know how to spell it. If searchers embrace the Google Suggest tool and essentially reduce a majority of searches to the few most popular queries, what implications would this have for search marketers? I would venture to guess that:
- The highest volume search terms (which are the ones being suggested by the tool) will become even more popular.
- Users’ intended search queries may be frequently abandoned in favor of suggested queries, reducing the volume of searches for long tail and misspelled search terms that once served a valuable purpose to search marketers.
- Competition for the most searched terms will intensify on the natural and paid search ends of the spectrum, resulting in higher cost per click rates as well as intensified competition among online businesses for popular phrases in the natural search results.
Again, this is merely my speculation; perhaps searchers will continue to search by their own rules and the impact of Google Suggest on the search marketing industry will be minimal. Only time will tell how this new feature will impact search behavior and the search marketing industry as a whole. The rollout of Google Suggest is not the first move Google has made that affects the way marketers approach search, and it certainly will not be the last. At minimum, it underscores the need for search marketers to stay informed and involved with the industry as it evolves. Check out Jennifer Liu’s At a Loss for Words? article on the Google blog for more information.
-Pam Westbrook, Ecommerce Marketing/Copywriting