What Is the Impact of Predictive Text Searches?
You've likely seen predictive text suggestions or autocomplete suggestions when running a search. In some cases, these just make it faster and easier to type what you were going to type anyway. If you are looking for concert tickets, for instance, the device will likely suggest "tickets" as soon as you type "concert". You can choose that suggestion to save time and run an instant search.
This can also be useful if you're unsure of the spelling or the proper term, but you know that you're close. You may type in half of a word or a few words before the main search term, and then you can use the autocomplete option to finish the term. You may not have gotten there on your own, so this can make your search more accurate than it would have been if you had guessed. This is another benefit and can be helpful in terms of SEO, when the site is optimized for that term and it's important for the user to actually type it correctly.
What Are the Downsides?
The main downside is that the prediction may not actually be what you're looking for, even if you mistakenly think that it is, and so there's a chance you could run an ineffective search. If you're not sure on that second word, as in the example above, you trust the prediction to be accurate, but there's no real way to know until you run the search and see that it isn't. This can make your search less accurate and could lead you to results that do not actually give you what you're looking for.
The other downside is when predictions are simply based off of what most other people are searching for. This puts your search, if you use that prediction, in the hands of other users. They could also have been inaccurate. A useless but popular search term may come up at the top of the list, but that does not mean it's going to work as you need it to.
The SEO Side
The above examines the user's side, but the search engine optimization aspect can also be tricky. Predictive text inevitably means that more people will be searching for the exact same terms. These may be generic and are sure to have high levels of competition. This can make it harder to rank for a niche term. While a user may have typed that on their own, they could be swayed away from it by the autocomplete feature, leading to a search that is so perfectly in line with what everyone else is searching for -- and optimizing for -- that your site no longer ranks.
At Content Customs, we know how important it is to keep your rankings as high as possible and to understand exactly what users are searching for and how they're doing it. Get in touch with us today and we can help you work to accomplish these goals.