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Good old Google has unleashed some new whackness into our lives with it’s new “instant auto-complete” feature. I’m not sure what it’s really called, but whatever it is, if it sticks around the roll of search marketing optimization as a traffic source will be changed.
In brief, the auto-complete suggests key-phrases based on what you type in for your first word. Google has had something like this before but it was vulnerable to manipulation. Phrases like “why won’t my parakeet eat my diarrhea” would pop up in Google’s older auto-complete feature—which may just be a slower version of Google’s new suggestion tool.
Aside from the parakeet thing being gross, it’s hard to believe that more than one person ever typed in that search phrase sincerely looking for an answer to such a question. Two theories about why the phrase showed up in Google’s trends are that either somebody at Google put it there as a joke, or a bunch of people got together and conspired to search Google with that phrase or create content and links containing it. Either way, it’s not really the kind of content Google wants to be serving up in general.
Now you can check out Google’s new version of auto-complete for yourself. I think the main difference is that it’s faster, as in almost instant. If you go to Google.com and type “why” into the search engine, you’ll get something that looks like this:
Some of those results are pretty odd. The raven one from the Mad Hatter in “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” by lewis Carroll. Of course it seems like nonsense popping up in your Google search, but it is a rather famous riddle. Furthermore, not making sense was the author’s point.
The thing about poop might seem odd, but I can imagine quite a few people wonder about why their excrement comes in funny colors sometimes. I’m sure the answer to this question has assuaged concern in more than one child so I figure some good is being done with Google’s calling it up as a search phrase.
How This Affects Online Marketers Like You and Me
By redesigning the auto-complete feature to be instant (or at least much faster) Google is in effect steering millions of people towards the most common searches. This in turn will make those search phrases more popular.
The concern among marketers, both SEO people and Pay-per-click people, is that this move by Google will steer much of the so-called “long tail” traffic towards the more popular terms.
This means Google is making up our minds for us. Google is choosing what we want to search for. Maybe this isn’t all bad because it does make some types of general searching easier for the average Google user. For Google, the effect will be to consolidate more traffic towards a tigher grouping of key-phrases which will—when those key-phrases are monetizable with advertising—cut the long-tail Pay-per-click marketers out of the zone where profits are made and create Pay-per-click bidding wars for the keyphrases being pushed by Google.
It’s very clever really, if Google’s motive is to increase and consolidate Pay-per-click revenue.
In addition, Google has recently gone on a rampage of banning direct response marketers from it’s Adwords Pay-per-click program. In effect Google keeps putting up new roadblocks to making direct sales from web-pages advertised with Adwords. My theory is that Google wants Adwords to be more of a corporate advertising engine and get rid of us direct response marketers, as we’re viewed as troublemakers.
What do you think?
The post author, Loren Woirhaye writes sales copy and creates marketing systems for business clients who want to slash customer acquisition costs and position their businesses For 20%-30% sales growth in the next 12-18 months. He writes regularly about marketing and life at his Entrepreneur Blog.