Google Instant May Hurt Everyone

I’m going to tie the evils of Google Instant together in just a moment.  But first, I’ve got to give a little background so that the entire scene makes sense.  This doesn’t fit well onto a bumper sticker.

There’s been a debate since the advent of modern technology about the privacy of the individual.  How much information should be kept personal and how much can be used by business?

Of course, what it boils down to is rather personal.  In fact advertisers would like it to be just that — personal.  They would rather show you an ad for a car when you’re looking to buy one than when it’s a couple of years away.  They’d like to be able to show you the restaurants in your area that have the food you like when you’re hungry.  And so would you!

That’s right.  I said it.  Privacy issues aside, would you rather find out about great restaurants when you’re hungry, or see comparisons about cars that you’re likely to buy when you’re ready to buy them?  That type of as-you-need-it advertisingis precisely what every consumer would like.  After all, if you’re going to have advertisers supporting the things you love then why not let them tell you about other things that you’ll love — or at least might like.

That’s where Google Instant is changing the paradigm.

Google is advertiser supported.  People go there to find relevant information precisely when they  need it.  Most on-line searches about goods and services are performed when people are looking to buy something.  Makes sense.  Going online for research is what we all do.

Let’s say that uou’re hungry on a Friday night.  You go online, type in your town’s name and the type of food you’re looking for hoping that somebody’s written some great information about a new restaurant you haven’t heard of before.  You hit Enter and you’re off.  Scanning through the results you notice that a local restaurant has a discount coupon that shows up in the ads on the right hand column of the results, you click on the ad, print up the coupon and try out a brand new restaurant.  Horray for Google and three cheers for the internet.

Not so fast.

Google’s new Instant Search Feature is really cool.  If you’re a slow enough typist, you’ll see a page of results as you type every character of your search query.  You see the page change and your eyes dart between the text box you’re typing in and the top row of results.  You see results that are relevant to what you’ve already typed.  There’s a link that’s interesting showing up and you click on the result.  But…

No Advertisements.  No Coupon.  Are you any better off?

Google’s new Instant Feature won’t show you the ads you’re used to unless you hit the Enter button.  In fact, the feature is so distracting that you tend to not look at any of the results except the first one or two and you don’t look right for ads.  So much for hundreds of millions of wasted dollars.

Companies who have been busy performing the equivalent of Political Gerrymandering by paying Search EngineOptimization companies to mess with their web sites to get them to the top of Google’s search results are now out-of-luck as people’s searching habits have just entirely changed.

Companies who rely on paid advertising using Google’s Adwords are even more out of luck, as the number of advertising results that are likely to be even glanced at is about to plummet. Google’s own studies have shown that the vast majority of people don’t even look look at the ads.

The conclusion?  It’s longer than what I have time to write here, but simply it’s to use the exact same technique that I’ve worked with my clients’ for years to do: provide good, relevant content for your users.  Don’t fret over Google’s “Page Rank.”  It’s not flashy.  It’s not sexy, but it works.

Go ahead and type “Craig Peterson” into Google’s new Instant Home Page.  Like how I float to the top?  It takes all the hard work without the flash.