Google Suggest May Affect Web Hosting Search

September 11, 2008 by Derek Vaughan

Notice anything different about Google lately? If not, you soon will. As explained in the Official Google Blog: 

The company will be changing the way that the default search works on the Google homepage beginning this week. The change centers around a service that has been available through Google Labs as an optional search feature for quite a while. The feature is named `Google Suggest` and the adoption of this feature as a default will undoubtedly affect any web hosting company that uses Google AdWords to sell hosting products and services.

So what exactly is `Google Suggest`? According to the Google Suggest FAQ:

``As you type into the search box, Google Suggest guesses what you`re typing and offers suggestions in real time. This is similar to Google`s `Did you mean?` feature that offers alternative spellings for your query after you search, except that it works in real time. For example, if you type "bass," Google Suggest might offer a list of refinements that include "bass fishing" or "bass guitar." Similarly, if you type in only part of a word, like "prog," Google Suggest might offer you refinements like "programming," "programming languages," "progesterone," or "progressive." You can choose one by scrolling up or down the list with the arrow keys or mouse.``

So why will this affect web hosting advertising so much? One reason is that typos and spelling errors will drop dramatically. It has long been a marketing tactic to use typos to gain traction for keywords at a fraction of the cost of the original keyword. Some examples of typos that a web hosting company might employ for the original term `web hosting`:

wen hosting
web josting
web hostin

You get the idea. There are even many online tools that help you create lists of misspelled keywords to add to a pay per click campaign. So in the past a clever marketer would create an AdWords campaign with literally hundreds of mistaken spellings for popular web hosting searches and then reap the rewards of this targeted traffic for a fraction of the cost if one were to advertise under the correctly spelled term. It seems that Google has gotten wise to this loophole in its AdWords revenue engine and is plugging it. With the addition of the Google Suggest tool in each and every search, the number of misspellings goes down dramatically. This is because before the incorrect term can be fully typed into the Google search box, Google will suggest the correctly spelled term – and most searchers will simply select the Google suggestion. Hence, the correctly spelled keyword will become the defector destination for the vast majority of searchers, ergo Google will reap the maximum revenue per search from its AdWords program.

There is another interesting development that also trickles down from the new paradigm: certain companies will possibly see a dramatic surge in traffic as Google suggests their site for much more general searches. Here are a few examples that may drive increased traffic:

If one searches for the search phrase `hosting` (this is a very popular search term) the Google Suggest listings begin to populate as follows:

After typing `hos` – the only two hosting terms suggested are `hosting` and `HostGator`. If one continues to type `host` – the only three suggestions are: `hosting`, `HostGator`, and `HostMonster`. I am assuming that this means that `HostGator` and `HostMonster` are the two most popular searches that people are actually looking for when typing in `host…`. I am presuming that a large percentage of searchers that were previously only searching for `hosting` will now be attracted (diverted?) into selecting `HostGator` or `HostMonster`. Hence, it is possible that these two sites will now garner a much larger share of general searches than they did previously.

There are also some broader implications for search terms. For example – two common searches for virtual servers have been `VPS` and `VPS hosting`. If one enters these terms into Google from the homepage, Google does not currently suggest either one. The most likely term to be suggested is vps server. Another fortunate example is if one searches for `HostSearch` – by the time you get to `hostse` Google will happily suggest – just as it should be! The take away here is that even some terms that were previously popular searches may become less so – and will require adjustments to both SEO campaigns and pay per clicks efforts.

So experiment with Google Suggest on the homepage of Google and get familiar with all of your web hosting related keyword phrases. Adjust your marketing efforts to account for these changes, and you can get a huge advantage over those competitors that move more slowly.

This content was written by Derek Vaughan and is provided courtesy of the Windows VPS experts at

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