How Google's Live Updating Of Search Might Affect Paid Search


During the weekend Distilled SEO Consultant Rob Ousbey identified a new Google feature that updates search results as someone enters keywords into the search box. It all happens in a blink of an eye without pressing the enter key. Ousbeyrecorded a quick video to show the search engine results page (SERP) change as he amends the query. He notes that the Google Operating System blog refers to this as Google "streaming" the search results.

Andrea Scarpetta, ZEN Internet marketer and SEO expert, believes this will benefit people who use PPC wisely, while big spenders who bid on high competitive keywords see a decrease in clicks and spending. "Since I'm refining my search as I type, will the organic results feel so interesting that I ignore the paid ones?" he says, suggesting that it might shift user attention to the long tail.

The feature might serve a purpose for focused searchers who don't get side-tracked, but what happens if a consumer spots a link for related item and clicks on it? Some paid search experts mention not wanting to pay for a CPM-based ad and running the risk of consumers jumping to another topic in mid-search.

One SEO professional doesn't believe the change will influence paid-click ads. "While the click-through rate can affect relative quality score, because Google makes more money on ads people like and click, ultimately it becomes relative," he says. "The only slight difference for PPC, and this is purely a 'wet finger in the air,' it might tend to push all searchers further to the mid-tail, so [there are] less header searches, and maybe less long tail."

On the one hand, brands have a chance to garner more views, but at the speed the results fly by, the value might diminish the query data, says SEO-Reliable Founder David Harry, who believes the trial could have everything to do with Caffeine, Google's project to make the Web faster.

These days, speed seems to influence most Web searches. On Monday, Microsoft's adCenter team explained in a blog post, Bing will temporarily increase the rate at which sites are crawled to 20 to 30qps. This is within the accepted standards for crawl rates, and is vital to continuing to provide the most relevant advertising experience possible.

Aside from Google and Bing, others have begun to speed up the Internet, too. A bilingual mash-up search engine called Babelplex also serves up results while entering the query.

Seattle-based Babelplex Founder HK Tang tells me the search results come from the Google AJAX Search API, and the translations come from the Google AJAX Language API.d The geeks reading Search Marketing Daily might want to know the real-time search technology relies on mostly JavaScript. Babelplex requests JSON encoded results that are processed inside the user's browser using JavaScript.

The idea of building a bilingual search engine came to Tang in December 2003, while stuck in bed sick with the flu. He had been thinking of creating a search service like the University of Washington's Metacrawler. Then he thought of a way to make it easy to search for information like foreign travel visas and foreign movies.

Babelplex initially launched on Nov. 1, 2004, but during the years Tang updated the engine to include features like live queries as Google opened its APIs to third-party developers. Tang continues to update the tool as he gets new ideas for useful features. For example, the Search-as-you-Type feature was implemented in January 2009, and he recently made another real-time search mash-up using the Twitter Search API, called 2lingual Twitter Search.

While Tang says there is no plan to display ads on Babelplex, it's not clear of the influence Google's real-time streaming search query results might have on AdWords PPC advertisers. Reaction among SEM experts appeared mixed.

Babelplex began as a pet project after Tang graduated from the University of Washington. It took him a couple months to build the first public version that was released in November 2004, and then revised and rereleased in April 2010.

1 comment about "How Google's Live Updating Of Search Might Affect Paid Search".
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  1. Alex Sepulveda from Rewire Marketing, August 24, 2010 at 8:02 p.m.

    The value in this feature is akin to Google Suggest. I often find myself pausing mid-query to scan the Suggest queries to see if my final query is there. On occasion I actually see a better query or an iteration that I hadn't thought of--perhaps a bit longer (tail) or sometimes more concise (more heady).

    Streaming SERs will achieve a similar effect, I think, allowing users to see what they're looking for before finishing their query; and if they don't see what they're looking for, they might be inclined to refine their query until they do.

    I can only see this having a positive impact on PPC because I feel confident saying that Google is NOT going to count an impression until you hit enter or the search button. A certain percentage of users could start refining their queries in the manner described above, thereby cutting down on impressions that wouldn't garner clicks for advertisers. The result could be a higher overall CTR and QS at the account level which improves QS at the keyword level, too.

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