Google has announced that their Suggest search tool will come out of Labs and release on the main Google search page. While many consumers may find this to be a helpful hand when searching, what does it mean to your business?
As users get accustomed to seeing and using search suggestions, odd keywords, misspellings and long-tail terms could become less relevant. As the suggestion tool "learns" from user queries, the searcher will spend less time dreaming up keyword terms. Instead, they will enter a few broad terms and start looking at the suggestion box for their final search term. From an SEO perspective, this means that your keyword research needs to get in high gear. You need to make sure that you are optimizing your pages and your tags for broad, industry terms.
But there's another view to consider. It could be argued that people will still search long tail phrases - Suggest could even broaden some searches from one or two words to longer, long-tail terms and phrases through the suggestion tool itself.
It also is likely that the PPC marketplace is going to narrow - meaning that key terms are going to get even more competitive than they already are. That, in turn, will drive more businesses to focus on their SEO efforts. This is good reason to start sculpting your pages to better reflect your industry than your individual products, services or specialized terminology.
In reality, it will be months before we see the true impact of Google Suggest. And, some search verticals will undoubtedly be more affected than others. Therefore, using analytics to watch your keywords is going to be more important than ever before.
If you haven't already, start searching your industry, your competitors and your own website on Google Suggest. It might also be a good idea to run some focus groups with searchers to find out how they are using Suggest to find what they want in your industry. The sooner you can master the language of this new, soon-to-be universal tool, the sooner you can make sure your site doesn't get lost in the mix.