The verdict is still out on how Google Instant is going to affect SEO, but after playing around with Google Instant Preview for a while, I’ve come up with a list of SEO tips that will help you stay ahead of the game and take advantage of the ever-evolving search landscape.
Fine Tune That Meta Description
Even with Google Instant Preview the searcher still needs to click on the magnifying glass in order to see a preview of your site. Clicking on the preview button is less of a commitment than clicking on a link, but you are still going to need to convince the searcher that it is worth their time to preview your website. Having an interesting well defined value proposition that fits within the allotted 150 characters is going to give you the best shot at having someone preview your site and that is half the battle.
Get Rid of That Flash
It is already known that Flash is bad for SEO because it can’t be crawled by the search engines, but Google Instant Preview gives us one more reason to scorn the use of the flashy multimedia platform. Not only is Flash not crawled on the actual webpage, but the flash portions don’t render in the Google Instant Preview making the pages look awkward, ugly, and/or distorted.
Fix Those Header Tags
Unless you have the eyesight of a Bald Eagle it’s unlikely that you are going to be able to read all of the text displayed in the Google Instant Preview. You will, however, most likely be able to make out the larger text items displayed in the banner and the header tags. Much like what search engines have already been doing, humans will now be using information found in the title and header tags to determine the structure of a page, it’s relevance, and whether or not it’s worthy of an actual click so be sure to portray this to the searcher through your use of header tags and page title.
Don’t Forget That Alt Text
One idea that most people seem to agree on is that now looks matter . Because of this it is likely that we are going to see a lot more webpages with sharp graphics, pretty charts, and other visual aids used to grab a searcher's attention. This makes it even more important than ever that your images are showing up for keywords they are relevant for and that means making sure that their filenames and alt text are descriptive and accurate.
Instant Preview definitely mixes up the search game yet again, but in the end, good SEO fundamentals are what is going to get you found on the search engine results pages.
Originally published Nov 11, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated October 01 2013