Google’s Asking us to Adapt
Google’s moved the goalposts again. This time, right before we’d almost perfected our kicking game. They’ve decided to further limit the keyword data that is available to marketers, challenging us to change how we report on the words users are utilizing in organic searches to get from place to place on the web.
The recent change to Google's (not provided) data received quite a bit of exposure, with many like myself discussing all sorts of possibilities for how this impacts our approach to utilizing keyword data to unlock deeper insights in both search and user behaviors. If you’d like a good breakdown of the recent change to switch all Google searches to be encrypted check out this article from HubSpot “Google to Encrypt ALL Keyword Searches: Say Goodbye to Keyword Data”
(screenshot from NotProvidedCount.com, showing sharp increase in recent (not provided) data in Google Analytics)
Google started this around 2011 when Keyword search activity was starting to show up as “not provided” in GA data. The website Not Provided Count also provides a great explanation of the issue and has been tracking the pattern of not provided data since the beginning. Google’s official answer was that this was to protect the privacy of users who were performing searches while logged into a Google account. A bigger question I have is, “Is Google going down the road of deciding what data we pay for, and what don’t they want us to see?”. And I’m clearly not the only one who thinks this.
What About my Marketing Goals?
With Google now encrypting all keyword data, we’re losing a direct line to all that juicy data that connects insights to keywords. More importantly, it’s data that shows what users are looking for when they get to a website’s content, and informs us what is working and what isn’t.
Before jumping to any conclusions, realize that this presents an opportunity for the serious Content Marketers and SEO Agencies to put their best foot forward and provide a plan for what they believe is a strategy worth pursuing and measuring.
Start by asking your Digital Agency what their plan is to monitor keyword performance and how does this change impact their reporting moving forward. If they don't already have a plan, and haven't already started using different tactics to meet this challenge, then you might want to take note. If this is something they have been aware of for some time, and are already on top of finding new a different ways to measure and report on their search strategy then you can be confident you're heading in the right direction.
For allwebcafe, successful marketing encapsulates the will to influence behaviors by providing great content experiences that stimulate conversations and draw endorsements and links from digital icons and authoritative websites. We’ve begun steering away from the need to only track results by keywords, and instead are focusing more on your impact across your digital marketshare. We define your digital marketshare as the authority you possess online and the brand experience that influences your customers.
(screenshot from one of the market share reports in Conductor Searchlight)
One of the reporting tools we use is called Conductor Searchlight (screenshot above is one of the many reports we utilize). On top of already delivering great keyword specific data, they recently unveiled a new feature specifically designed to help connect the dots for Google’s (not provided) keyword data. This is just one of the data sources we plan on utilizing as we continue working with clients to create, refine and improve the Content Experiences that they are making available to customers. We’re ready to adapt to Google’s challenge and any strong Digital Agency should be as well.
Good SEO is More Than Just Keywords
Good SEO starts with diving deep into your buyer personas and building keywords that span the buy-in journey from intent to sale. Start by identifying and assessing the content that is important to a users buy-in journey, and measure how it is ranking and the impact it has on customers as they move through the sales process. Succeeding today is not only about how many keywords you rank for, but also understanding your target personas and then handing them information they want to use for making decisions.
It’s time to adapt and start contributing to the conversation. Once you do, there’s a good chance you will fall in love with your agency all over again and start planning the next big Content Experience that has everyone talking.