What Is a Search Engine Autocomplete and How Is It Used To Affect Search Results?
Innocuous as it might seem at first, search engine autocomplete is, in fact, an incredibly powerful tool for successful SEO implementation and, depending on how it is applied, potentially a key tool for online reputation management.
Search engine autocomplete is one of the most basic features of all popular search tools. Essentially, it is the search engine’s ability to predict your input query and to provide suggestions for your lookup on the fly.
This is useful for the end-user, to be sure, but since autocomplete draws its cues from the incredible wealth of data that is supplied by the search engine itself, it has grown to become an invaluable source of SEO information, too.
How does Search Engine Autocomplete Affect the Users’ Search Results?
Depending on what it is that you’re looking up via, say, Google, the search algorithm will supply you with a fresh batch of contextualized suggestions (i.e. autocompletes) as soon as you start typing your query.
These suggestions depend on virtually everything that Google knows about you. From your geographical location to your previous web lookups, everything is relevant when it comes to offering quality autocompletes to the end-user.
The autocompletes that said user gets in the first place are chosen primarily based on their popularity with other users in a similar situation. As soon as a query makes its way to the top of the autocomplete list, its popularity is bound to grow even further, since that’s probably what most people want to learn about.
Now, every offered autocomplete can immediately be clicked on, which saves the users from having to type out their full query. Most users don’t have advanced web lookup skills, and will invariably prefer to go with a popular autocomplete option over typing something in themselves.
In practice, this leads to situations where an autocomplete option offered by Google can drive traffic towards highly specific lookup terms simply because that’s what most people are clicking on.
How is Search Engine Autocomplete Useful for SEO?
When it comes to SEO, every single keyword helps. Autocomplete offers an organic, real-time look at all the things that other users are most interested in. Better still, it’s what they’re actually looking for via Google.
For anyone who’s working on search engine optimization for their client or even their own website, having access to such a large and comprehensive overview of user interest is incredibly useful.
If – of course – you know what to actually do with it.
Though there are more powerful and robust purpose-built tools that do more than autocomplete does, none of them are as easily accessible. Better yet, Google’s autocompleting is fully integrated with their search engine, and it’s completely free of charge.
It should be pointed out that, in most cases, the majority of popular autocomplete options will have already been optimized for. Big websites and high-profile services that compete in specific niches employ top-tier SEO experts for this exact purpose. But, you can still get valuable insight into the users’ search tendencies regardless of that.
Since the volume of lookups is the primary driver behind a popular autocomplete option, it goes without saying that you can use autocomplete results as a starting point if you’re hoping to establish a new niche.
Whether it’s a product or a service that you’re hoping to promote via good, reliable SEO, chances are that your first step will be to consult autocomplete, to begin with.
How to Use Search Engine Autocomplete for Content Optimization?
Someone with experience in SEO will know that, ideally, you’ll use Google autocomplete in tandem with some other optimization tool, but it’s a stellar starting point even if you’re only looking for general pointers for your content.
As we mentioned before, the more Google (or any other search engine, for that matter) knows about you, the more tailor-made information it will be providing you with. Autocompletes are a part of the package.
If you’re attempting to optimize a batch of content for search engine positioning, there are ways for you to get access to neutral and unbiased autocomplete options. It all boils down to removing personal biases from the equation and knowing your audience.
Use your browser’s Incognito Mode equivalent
The use of Incognito Mode should be self-explanatory by now. What this does is that it removes everything that Google knows about you from the equation, essentially turning your browser into a stellar tabula rasa for SEO research.
Browsing incognito will allow you to research real-world search tendencies without falling victim to your personal search history, ruining the quality of your SEO when you try to implement it.
Adjust your language settings
This is where knowing your audience comes in. By adjusting your language settings to be regionally relevant for your target audience, your search queries will be closer to those of your audience, too.
Naturally, this won’t do much if you’re an American preparing content for a service that targets Americans. If you’re from, say, Eastern Europe, however, tweaking your language settings to be closer to those preferred by Americans may get you some solid leads.
Get a VPN
The humble VPN is another must-have for precise SEO management. Your physical location on the globe plays a major role in autocomplete delivery with every search engine, and Google in particular.
By using a VPN, however, you can bypass your geographical location and essentially insert yourself among an entirely different audience. Preferably, one that you’re actually hoping to target.
If you intend to offer a service to, say, the German-speaking populace, set your VPN to Austria and you’ll get a far more relevant set of autocorrect options than you otherwise would.
Where does Online Reputation Management Come In?
Online reputation management is completely entwined with SEO, which, in turn, means that it’s completely entwined with search autocomplete options, too.
Whether you’re dealing with an untimely business fallout that you’re attempting to contain, or if you simply want to push a more positive outlook on your service and/or content via Google, autocomplete will be a major concern.
Google’s search algorithm is completely ambivalent to the nature of autocomplete, whether it’s positive or negative. As long as enough people are using it to find content, Google will push the autocomplete in question to the top.
This means that, in practice, you merely need to decide what you want your reputation to be online, and then to continue by targeting related and semantically adjacent autocomplete options in that niche.
Of course, we are boiling things down to their simplest components here. SEO is often complex and fiddly, but the important thing is that it can and should be used by businesses online to boost their presence on the web and to steer it in a direction they find agreeable.
Having said that, everyone and everything needs a starting point, and search engine autocomplete options will always be a safe bet for those looking to start optimizing content.
Depending on how in-depth you want to take your SEO, you may need to combine Google’s autocomplete with a variety of other tools. The ability to see practical lookup examples and test the algorithm in a real-world situation is an invaluable tool in every SEO toolbox.