If you’re involved in online marketing in any way, then you should be aware that webmasters and online marketers have been using search keywords data as a means to measure their site performance. You should also be well aware that things have changed in recent years and Google is now very near to achieving 100% encryption of organic searches. This means you’ll no longer be able to view raw keyword data for searches made on Google.
“Not Provided” Video Discussion Jacob Hagemann
A Quick Review of the “Not Provided” Trend
It was in 2011 when Google first made searches secure. At that time, only those who were signed into any of their Google accounts (Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, etc.) will have their search activities encrypted. Within the past two years, though, Google has gradually increased the scope of their encryption and people have reported getting about 75% of their keyword data blocked towards the end of September this year. It is expected that before the year ends, Google would have made 100% of searches secure, whether you’re logged in or not.
When Search is Secure
Right now there are generally four scenarios where your search will become secure (this is when you’re brought to Google’s https:// URL instead of the http:// one). These scenarios are:
- When you choose to go to the https:// URL for whatever reason
- When you’re signed into any of your Google accounts, as mentioned earlier
- When you’ve just signed out of your Google accounts, because you won’t be taken back to the http:// URL unless you open another browser or window
- When you use the Firefox 14 browser, as this browser has been designed to send all Google searches to the https:// URL
Of course, it may not be long before all searches on Google will become secure. This is why if you haven’t done so already, it’s best to start planning your next move in light of this development RIGHT NOW.
What You Can Do
Several webmasters have thrown their ideas into the discussion of what can be done in light of Google’s encryption of searches. Here are a few of the ideas that have been shared in various websites and forums:
- A good on-site search facility could be developed and installed, and the logs of on-site search activities kept
- Clicks on blog tags could be tracked and query-based navigation systems installed
- Google Webmaster Tools may be leveraged for as much as data as there is available
Considering everything we know and everything that’s been said about the “Not Provided” trend, here are a few tips we feel can help you move forward once implementation of this change reaches 100%:
1. Forget Google
Of course we don’t mean you should literally forget about Google, just that you should stop worrying so much about the changes they’re making. These changes affect the way you market your business and monitor its growth, so why shouldn’t you worry? Well, for one thing, you should focus your energies more on ensuring you have an excellent product or service to offer, your website has great content, and you’re building legitimate links of high authority. If you’re already doing all three, then you should be fine no matter what changes Google may think of next.
As long as you continue to offer real value to your customers in terms of products, services, and content, your business should do just fine in the face of Google’s changes.
Besides, if you don’t rank well in Google, that doesn’t automatically mean your business will never have a shot at success! Take the iPhone, for example. This is one of the most well-known mobile phone brands in the world, right? When you do a Google search for “mobile phones,” however, you won’t even see any link to Apple’s iPhone web pages in the organic results.
This means Apple does so much more than beat their heads against the wall trying to rank well on Google. You should do the same. Try to earn high Google rankings, but focus more on earning your customers’ trust and loyalty.
2. Focus on Content
We’re not just talking about any content here, of course. You need to make sure your website has excellent content! You already know what it takes for your content to be considered excellent, right? Your content has to address your target market’s stated and implied needs. It has to be relevant to current circumstances and trends. It has to be always fresh and up-to-date. And it has to be interesting.
So, instead of spending the bulk of your online marketing budget on SEO firms that’ll do nothing but build or buy links for you, you’d be better served if you let those firms provide you with a continuous stream of awesome content. You could even save a significant amount of money by creating content yourself if you’re up for it. A few tips to make sure your content successfully grabs your audience and keeps a firm hold on them:
- Create fun infographics to deliver messages that would otherwise be boring.
- Write interesting blog posts.
- Try posting as a guest blogger on about three blogs each week.
- Create detailed guides and How-to articles for your audience.
- Conduct webinars.
- Leverage social media.
3. Research New Keywords
Okay, we just said you can no longer view organic keyword data on Google, right? So why are we telling you to research new keywords? How will you research new keywords without the data?
Think about why you check organic keyword data in the first place. In most cases, marketers do these three reasons: 1) To find out which keywords generate traffic for their website, 2) To find new keyword opportunities, and 3) To determine if there’s any improvement in their brand popularity.
If these are the same reasons you have for checking organic keyword data, then boy, do we have good news for you! There are ways for you to accomplish all three without necessarily relying on Google Analytics data. So, you see, you can still improve your rankings and site traffic even when Google goes 100% “not provided.”
To find out which keywords generate traffic for your site, you need to track your rankings with services like Moz. Of course, you’ll have to enter all keywords you rank for into Moz to track rankings. If you can no longer view these keywords on Google Analytics, fear not. You can still view the top 2000 going back 90 days on Google Webmaster Tools. Although the data you get from the Webmaster Tools may not be a hundred percent accurate, it’s still better than nothing.
You would also do well to check your click-through rates on Webmaster Tools so you’ll get an idea as to which of your pages rank high. The data you get will be very helpful in giving you an idea as to what adjustments you need to make so as to improve your rankings and get more traffic to your site.
Find New Keywords
As mentioned earlier, you can still do keyword research even with the “no provided” update. The most obvious way for you to continue getting keyword data, of course, is to spend on AdWords, since Google is only encrypting organic search, not paid search. If you don’t want to
pay Google for keyword data on principle (these data used to be free, after all), you could use a keyword research tool like SEM rush.
With a keyword research tool, you simply need to enter the URL of one of your competitors and you’ll be given a list of keywords they’re optimizing for, both organic and paid. By researching a number of your competitors, you’ll get an idea of which keywords are commonly used and you’ll gain some valuable insights as to which keywords you could possibly optimize for.
Check Brand Popularity
Google Trends is a very useful site for those who want to determine how their brand is doing in terms of popularity. If your business is relatively new, Google Trends may not show data for it just yet, but given enough time, you should be able to use this tool to track your brand’s growth. If you see your brand registering consistent growth, then that means you’re doing things right.
So Google decided to go all out in encrypting organic search. So what? As long as you keep giving your market a good product and service, and as long as you continue improving your marketing skills, you should be just fine.
Mary McLean is a blogger for Philippine-based outsourcing provider SquareFish Inc. She has been working actively with the company to develop its content and Internet marketing strategies. Mary blogs about SEO, content creation, social media, and some of the latest IT-related topics. You can find her on Google+.