This morning marked the introduction of Google Instant, a new feature of the Google search engine whereby it automagically starts giving you results while you type. Naturally the search world is a-twitter about how cool it is and what it might mean, but I have to say I was surprised to read Steve Rubel declare that it meant the death of SEO.
I don’t know Steve, and have never read his work before, and I’m sure he’s a smart guy. However, I think once he thinks on this a bit he’ll realize that his prediction of death missed the mark.
People have been predicting the demise of SEO for a long time now, almost as long as those predicting Apple’s demise. (They’re still around, right?) Lot’s of things were supposed to have killed it already – social media, PPC, personalization, mobile computing, even the mass education of webmasters on proper SEO practices. These things have certainly changed SEO but, as Mark Twain said, the reports of SEO’s death were premature.
It’s too early yet to say just how searcher behaviors will change from this, but whatever keywords are typed/searched will still yield a results page — dynamic and changing, but still a results page, and still bound by the Google search algorithms. As such, being on those results pages is still a function and goal of SEO efforts. Sure, as Steve says Google Instant means “no two people will see the same web,” but wasn’t that what personalization was supposed to accomplish? And if you were logged into Google, didn’t that also already skew the results?
There was a death here, I think, but it was the idea of uniform results for all and it’s mutant stepchild — search engine ranking. Being number whatever on the first page has depended on who and where the searcher was for a while now. SEO tactics with the goal of getting to a certain rank for everyone cannot achieve that goal, since everyone’s search experience (and results) are a bit different.
Hopefully, the death today’s announcement marks is the increasingly useless keyword ranking report. We can only hope…