Google Instant - find your brand faster, or not

September 8, 2010

One of the things that has always kept me a loyal Google user has been speed. Don’t get me wrong, their search results are pretty good, but the speed of the results allows a user to quickly try many different search queries. One big improvement to recently occur was suggested queries—where Google provides suggested search strings as you type. This helps a user to refine their search query on-the-fly. I have found it to help me produce much better results. Just how fast is fast? Google claims to accept, process and return results in about ½ second. That’s amazing! It turns out, the slowest part of the search is typing in the request and reviewing the results. How do you improve on that? Today Google announced a new product that does just this. It's called Google Instant and it is available immediately to all users. Here is how it works. Google Instant analyzes the letters as you type them and combines spell checking with predictive query analysis to start displaying results from the first keystroke. A great example is when you type in the letter “W.” The first search result—instantly displayed—is the local weather.

And what if you weren’t looking for weather, but looking for “Wikipedia?” As soon as you add the “i,” it will be displayed. It’s pretty neat, and for me it seems rather accurate. As before, you can see your search query and perhaps adjust on the fly, but now you can do it based on the results. But what does this all have to do with brand? Well, it appears that search engine optimization (and perhaps paid search) just got a lot more important. At the very least, the pay-off for having strong SEO just increased dramatically. Imaging if you “owned” a letter. Imagine how much more traffic your site would get when your brand comes up first when a single letter is typed in. My first review of the search results leads me to believe that Google is using a combination of Google Page Rank and your personal history. This means traditional SEO techniques will still work. I tried every letter of the alphabet and most of the 1st items were very popular Web properties, some that I have never frequented. And in a few instances the first item was most definitely tailored to me. As an example, for “D” item #1 was the Democrat and Chronicle, which is a local Rochester paper. For “R,” item #1 was my alma mater RIT. See the complete list below and please leave a comment with your thoughts, experiences and results! What would you pay to own a letter?

A - Amazon
B - Best Buy
C - Craigslist
D - DemocratandChronicle.com (local Rochester paper)
E - eBay
F - Facebook
G - Gmail
H - Live.com (hotmail)
I - IMDB
J - JetBlue
K - Kohl's
L - Lowes
M - MapQuest
N - Netflix
O - Old Navy
P - Pandora
Q - BrainyQuotes.com
R - RIT.edu
S - Sears
T - Target
U - UPS
V - Verizon
W - Weather.com
X - Xbox.com
Y - Yahoo
Z - Zillow.com

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