So roughly four years ago, Google made the announcement that stated they were going to start encrypting search results for logged-in Google users—this includes any Google-owned product such as Google+, Youtube, Gmail and etc. Approximately two years ago, Google delivered that promise making search engine companies all over the world shake their heads in disappointment and clamor for an acceptable reason behind this move. By 2013, Search Engine Land had reported that Google has made this change, which was aimed at encrypting all search activity save for clicks on ads. Additionally, Google confirmed that it was encrypting searches from the Chrome Omnibox their reason being the protection of a substantial amount of users who were not even signed in. This translated to marketers not being able to get the keyword. Naturally, SEO companies were enraged as this was basically the nightmare of every SEO company that finally took form in reality.
So why is this happening?
According to Google’s assertion, the reason for this dreaded switch was to provide that much needed “extra protection” for searchers. NSA might have contributed to Google’s pivotal decision though as Search Engine Land suspects that Google might also be attempting to block their spy activity considering that Google was accused of giving the National Security Agency access to its search data back in June 2013. Though Google strongly denied this, it is a plausible assumption considering the timeliness of their decision. This move also strongly suggests that Google is utilizing this move to get more people to use Google adwords considering that they encrypt all search activity for everything with the sole exception of ad clicks.
What this could potentially mean?
So what does this mean to marketers? In a nutshell, it means that marketers would no longer be able to identify which keywords a person who was logged into Google.com searched for before they came upon your website. This is true even if they would be using a web or marketing analytics platform. These keywords are vital as these keyword insights would provide marketers the much needed information on what keywords to target to achieve greater visibility in search. Google encrypting all keyword data translates to not just losing some of their Google keyword insights for marketers but rather, this would mean they would lose all of them. As a result, this would cause a lot of concern for marketers particularly in addressing the dilemma of finding out how searchers would find and arrive at their websites. Furthermore, this would mean content strategies are affected and might have to be revamped.
So how does a Marketer address this?
A few SEO experts weighed in on the situation and offered varied opinions but it all boils down to creating great content. According to Aaron Aders, a Co-founder of digitalrelevance, secure searches, while frustrating to many SEO marketers, is actually a great move for the SEO industry. To him, it would mean that great SEO is great content with powerful digital endorsements from relevant and authoritative websites which would result in business results that transcend keyword conversation.
While Larry Kim, Founder and CTO of Wordstream says that since as SEO optimized content is already themed content which generally focuses around a specific topic, tracking the SEO performance of all of your URL’s is still very much possible. While Andre Pitre, a HubSpot Analytics Product Manager asserts that marketers should be accustomed to living in a world where only bits and pieces of information are offered and are given access to information that is largely incomplete. Furthermore, he added that it is a big part of a marketer’s job to interpret the incomplete data and make the best decisions out of that.
So what should you do?
Well, with all this you should not feel completely left in the dark about how search impacts and influences your marketing strategy. Here are some of the ways you can utilize in order to measure and use search data:
*Do not disregard other search engines! Search engines such as Bing and Yahoo still continue to pass along keyword data. Though it will not provide marketers the full picture, analytics tool such as HubSpot can still show keywords for the thirty three percent of searches that come from search engines like Bing, Yahoo, AOL and etc. This would at least give marketers an indication of which keywords are the most useful.
*Organic search still works and it is still possible to tell how much traffic your website is receiving from this. You might not exactly know the exact keywords but you can still very much correlate the work you do to optimize your site and create content to increase or decrease your organic search.
*Rank still continues to play a role in helping measure the results of search engine optimization and content creation.
* Setting up Adwords will still give you access to keyword insights and Google Analytics so it is best to take advantage of those.
*Social Media becomes even more prominent so utilize it. Link your blog, website, newsletter and other information across all social media platforms and channels. This is a great way to get your content noticed by social media followers.
* With Google encrypting its keywords, it is high time to produce more compelling content and get serious about quality content. It is no question that Google is placing a much higher premium on quality content rather than just the text that has only given a number of keywords. Furthermore, you can think of various ways to get your content seen and read through Google’s innovation though you have to be incredibly creative to get this done. As a result, this would be the opportune time for focusing in creating content that provides information, advice, tutorials, and tips that solve commonplace and not so commonplace dilemmas. You can also choose to answer real questions and engage with your website visitors more through a comment section. Emphasis, according to Google, is placed on the ability to inform actual users.