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How Google Suggest influences the traffic you get from Google

Last week, Google added the Google Suggest feature that had been available in beta for a long time to its main page. This might sound like a small change but it can have a big effect on the traffic that you get from Google.

What is Google Suggest?

Google Suggest adds suggestions to your search query while you type it. For example, if you type "Chicago" in Google's search box, then Google will suggest "Chicago Tribune", "Chicago Cubs", "Chicago Airport" and a variety of other keywords.

Why does this change the traffic that you'll get from Google?

The implementation of Google Suggest on the main search page might have several effects on the keywords that web surfers use:

  1. People might search less for one or two word keywords

    MP3 is a very popular search term. However, it's unlikely that a search for "mp3" will return the results that the web surfer searched for. When you now search on Google, Google will suggest "mp3 player", "mp3 downloads" and "mp3 converter" among many other suggestions. It's likely that the web surfer will choose one of these suggestions because they describe more accurately what they are looking for.

  2. Web surfers might become less creative when they search

    Some people might think that the options offered in Google's suggest box are the only possible keyword combinations that can be entered. Other people might rely on Google's suggested keywords out of convenience.

    Technically less adept web surfers or lazy people might stick with the default suggestions instead of really typing what they are looking for.

  3. AdWords prices for some keywords might go up

    Instead of many different keyword combinations, the same (suggested) keyword combinations might be searched over and over. This could result in increasing AdWords prices for these keywords and in increased competition for these keywords.

  4. Long-tail keywords might be negatively affected

    Long-tail keywords are keywords that typically consists of 4-6 words. These keywords are usually very targeted and they often lead to conversions because people who enter long-tail keywords know what they're looking for. As Google mainly suggests keywords that consist of up to 3 keywords, the amount of long tail keywords might decrease.

  5. Long-tail keywords might be positively affected

    On the other side, Google Suggest might show some people that it is possible to refine search queries. Web surfers might use Google's suggested keywords and further refine the queries with their own words. People who never thought about their search terms now might start to do so.

This is your chance to get an advantage over your competitors

The keywords through which websites get traffic from Google are likely to change. You should optimize your web pages for targeted search terms that consist of multiple words.

This is your chance to get an advantage over your competitors. Optimize your web pages now for these targeted multiple word keywords before your competitors do it.

Further information on how to find the best keywords can be found in our free SEO ebook. You can also use the keyword tools in IBP to research keywords.

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September 2008 search engine articles