Could Google Chrome Change the SEO Field?

Search is the New Operating System

People far smarter than I have talked about the web becoming an operating system, and search being at the center of how we access the cloud. What better way for Google to position themselves as the C prompt than to turn the address bar into a search box?

I think operating systems are kind of an old way to think of the world. They have become kind of bulky, they have to do lots and lots of different (legacy) things. - Sergey Brin

Some have dismissed Google Chrome as being unoriginal, but it is "a step that needed to wait until the company had, essentially, come of age. It is an explicit attempt to accelerate the movement of computing off the desktop and into the cloud"

Google is Serious About Marketing Chrome

Sergey Brin stated that they did not intend to lower Firefox's marketshare, but a day after launch Google was already marketing Chrome on their homepage (internationally and abroad to users of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Chrome!)

How the Omnibox Shapes SEO

Recently I mentioned how Google Suggest could change SEO, and the Omnibox drastically extends those effects. Google did not pull any dirty tricks to force their search service into being the browser default, but they did try to turn the address bar into a search box - which will increase how often we search. The Omnibox offers short cuts as you type:

The parts that are in black are related search queries and the parts that are in green are typically one or more of the following

  • the #1 ranking organic Google search result
  • pages you recently visited that are relevant to the search query

SEO Implications

The "search results before the search results" have major SEO implications:

  • Google is keeping some of the data entered before you hit the enter button. Getting people to search for your brand could be seen as another signal of quality.
  • Raising the awareness of your brand and getting many people to search for your brand will help your brand related queries show up when people search for broader related brands.
  • The value of a #1 Google ranking goes up, as the top ranked site has another opportunity to capture the searcher BEFORE they see the SERPs, and will be more likely to get clicked on when searchers see the search results (since they just saw the URL a second earlier).
  • The value of awareness advertising, website interactivity, and consumer generated content go up as they make you more likely to show up in the list of previously viewed pages.
  • For heavily advertised and/or frequently viewed pages I can see an advantage to adding a tomes of relevant text below the fold such that your site shows up for many related search queries. :)
  • Given Google's large ad network and their network advantages in search monetization, they will easily be able to buy marketshare through advertising on their own ad network and bundling this browser with hardware providers.
  • If the feature is widely adopted by other browsers it could lower the value of type in domain names (by making people more likely to search rather than type in a domain name). This could force some domainers to sell or develop, which could lower domain prices (and the .com premium)...this trend may already be underway given the pending Yahoo!/Google ad deal.

Your Thoughts?

How do you see Chrome changing SEO?

Published: September 4, 2008 by Aaron Wall in google


September 4, 2008 - 7:15pm

The search without SERPs brings up an interesting dilema about Adwords ads not getting as many views as they currently do.

Of course Chrome market share is so tiny right now that the impact is minimal but in a few years this could decently affect their revenue. I guess they've always got the content network at least until a chrome plug-in comes out that doesn't display AdSense.

September 4, 2008 - 7:31pm

It will be even harder for SEOs to manipulate search results, which is good. And it will be easier for Google to manipulate user behavior, which is bad.

Dave Keffen
September 4, 2008 - 8:40pm

With approximately 1 % of market share within just one day, Google Chrome is here to stay.

As you say Aaron, they can easily link up with equipment manufacturers (Dell springs to mind) and roll it out big time.

Value of no. 1 search result value has, as you point out gone up once again. Searchers are almost spoon-fed the domain before leaving the Omnibox.

This IMHO is a giant leap ahead for Google in their gradual domination of the web.

Not sure of SEO implications yet, other than a continuation of the need for us to dance chiefly with Google rather than Yahoo and Microsoft.

I wouldn't be too surprised to see normal top of the SERPS page sponsored results appearing in the Omnibox suggestions before too long. Then the Adwords war would really begin.

September 5, 2008 - 12:48am

Your most basic computer user will usually claim to be able to do two things: email and Google. Having a pre-installed browser that makes doing those two things as easy as possible will quickly change the way people use their computers and the software that comes into play. Adobe is heading in this direction as well, looking for the end of the operating system. Where will the fights be? Microsoft having missteps in going "Live" and telecoms trying to throttle bandwidth with rated costs.

September 5, 2008 - 3:37am

The browser is basically acting as an operating system in that it isolates tabs and multi threads processes. If you think about it in terms of cloud services for the average user you have:

- Google Docs for all writing, spreadsheet and presentation work. (Once it matures more of course.)
- Gmail for email and Chat
- Chrome for web surfing

Beyond that your average doesn't really need much more. If they integrate Picasa into it, they will essentially have everything running within the browser and could, in theory, base an operating system off of it since it's close to one in the way that it works.

I know it's still an application at the moment but an operating system is just an app running on hardware. They could use this in the long term to build their own operating system and Chrome could be the "halo effect" that the iPod was for the mac.

September 5, 2008 - 1:06pm

It is in the nature of organizations to push their advantage. The society as a whole might soon be facing a lack of diversity: choice on the internet would be through Apple, Microsoft and Google.
Google could selectively avoid proposing Chrome to the people landing on their homepage -- depending on their current browser. This is very easy to do. Here is an example in PHP:

One can contribute to diminish IE market share while keeping Firefox market share by pushing IE users (and only them) to switch to Firefox.

September 5, 2008 - 6:40pm

I thought about that too. And that was what made Sergey Brin's comments about not trying to shrink Firefox marketshare so dishonest/disingenuous.

September 5, 2008 - 4:10am

Google is acting against their own ideals and policies with this product. Definitely they are manipulating their own system to increase their profits. What do they say?? 'well, we want to bring the most relevant content....'... nope, they want to bring the most paying content.

Besides, 'drop-down search suggestions' feature by any search engine is the most offensive feature online in my opinion. People are being guided by machines that collect data for the terms that are searched the most. 'Join the herd and be a good boy'. Like many other tech device, the objective is to kill the intuition (which seperates people from machines) for the sake of more corporate profit. I can see the next few moves within the next decade and I find it scary.

September 5, 2008 - 9:12am

Everything Google gives you for "free" is aimed at increasing the time spent on their network and thus seing their ads and maybe click on them. Since ads are their main revenue stream, expect Chrome to gather information on your browsing behavior (BrowseRank on steroïd) have read the EULA?. Since other search engines are gaining relevancy and catching up Google, the latter has to expand the ways to sustain their domination on the web.

Nina Hale
September 5, 2008 - 12:28pm

I'm somewhat reeling from the implications for SEO, Adwords, universal search, and long tail searches. But also what this means in terms of relevancy of sites. If this increases traffic to certain sites but they are less relevant because there was less thought or (brief) research going into the click, does this mean that the #1 spot becomes more fluid? We know that measuring solely by ranking has been steadily becoming obsolete, and this furthers that by the leap in personalization.

September 6, 2008 - 1:33pm

This comment may be inappropriate for this topic. But is Chrome a web 3.0 browser?

September 6, 2008 - 3:31pm

That is certainly how Google would like it to be branded/seen.

September 6, 2008 - 11:07pm

I wonder what WEB 3.0 really is going to be, as far as I've been assisting internet development I can say that web 1.0 and 2.0 are totally different. It's true nobody wants to revisit a website using iframes and thinks like that, that is too ugly and that doesn't look like the majority of websites today. This is why I appreciate so much google, they're not only making money but also pull ahead the internet as a whole.

September 9, 2008 - 1:55pm

Looks like the number of viewable characters that can be seen are restricted to the width of the tab.

I didn't see where that was adjustable.

Something to consider when optimizing for Chrome if you want or care about users being able to read the title tag.

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