Let’s use a specific example for a specific industry. Imagine a small business owner is investigating setting up a website. The most used search term is “web design” which gets 12,100 exact searches each month in Australia and 301,000 world wide.
That makes ranking “Web Design” on the first page a pretty lucrative keyword to rank for since it will attract a great deal of searchers. However with the introduction of Google Instant, more searchers will modify their search term on the fly. Look at what happens when I enter the term “Web Design”.
There are a few things that happen here. 1) Google Suggest suggests a different keyword “Web Designer”. 2) The search results appear instantly and bold related search terms such as “Website” and 3) More search terms are made available to the searcher such as “Company”. Now since the results are instant and do not require the user to take any action, the user is free (if not even encouraged) to make continual modifications to the search term used. So in this example the user might decide to change the term to “web designer” or “website design company”. Let’s assume the searcher decided to change to “website design company”. Here’s what happens:
As the user nearly completes the term the plural term “companies” is suggested. Now the user knows that there is nothing to be lost by changing the search term mid type since the results are instant.
So here are my conclusions:
- Searchers will be educated as they search
- Searchers on average will perform more searches than previously
- Long tail keyword searches will increase in volume
- Keywords that lend themselves to plurals will increase in volume
So how do SEOs need to change their practice? Once they have done initial keyword research they need to start analysing how a typical searcher will behave when entering this search term. Useful questions to ask are, how will a searcher likely modify this search term? And, what long term keywords can be combined to rank for a range of possible modified searches?