On Sept. 24, Google officially announced a change in the way it provides information to website owners and marketers. Some people are describing this as Google physically “closing doors” for everyone. My response, everyone take a deep breath and read this blog!
Like most information, once it hits the 24 hour news cycle, suddenly we find ourselves in Armageddon or Googlemageddon. However, we can choose to look at this in an entirely different way.
First, what happened?
The story begins two years ago in October 2011. If you were signed into Google when you performed a search in Google, your search was encrypted and reported as “not provided” to marketers and website owners running analytics. Since then, Google has been slowly increasing the number of “not provided” by encrypting more and more searches. Tuesday, they announced that they would be moving to 100% Encrypted Search. This makes marketing a lot trickier in the days to come, since that information helps us to get our messages out to the people most receptive to them.
In other words, every time a person types a search into Google, we won’t have immediate access to the search information. Instead, all searches from Google will be reported to us as “not provided.” Since 83% of internet searchers use Google, this is why some marketers are hiding under their desks screaming “Googlemageddon.” Others are calling for their SEO brethren to start campaigning for Bing and Yahoo.
Google is trying to smooth this over by also announcing that people using Google Webmaster Tools will be able to see the top 2,000 queries per day going back 90 days and will increase this report to extend up to a year; however, the information isn’t terribly accurate, according to Eric Siu in “Google’s New Secure Search Means More Work for Online Business Owners.”
They’ve also indicated that this new privacy concern for searchers does not apply if a business is willing to buy ads in Adwords because google will pass you an isolated amount of keyword data – so go figure, right?
Both solutions, Adwords and Google Webmaster Tools, are not as accurate. As SEO professionals, what will become more difficult without keyword data is providing clear data to customers that is easily digested.
But we can keep calm and combat this with a multichannel approach.
To put it another way, it’s as if marketers were used to getting all they needed for breakfast with a single bowl of cereal. Now that cereal has been taken away, and we have to make our breakfast by combining several sources of nutrition – boil an egg, fry some bacon, maybe cook up some hash browns. It takes more time, and it won’t be the same breakfast, but we can make it work.
Rand Fishkin at Moz points out that page level data will become much more important. We can still determine which pages are getting the most visits. Combine that with ranking data and we can make reasonable observations about what is driving traffic to those pages and react accordingly. This new wrinkle has been years in the making, so savvy SEO professionals have already been working on ways to create the big picture from various data sources.
The old adage remains true – build a good site that helps people find what they need, be active in creating useful content, and you’ll keep getting traffic. And most of all, come out from under your desk!