There’s been a lot of talk (maybe too much talk) about Google’s roll-out of encrypted search. This has actually been a soft roll-out nearly two years in the making. In 2011, they began encrypted searches for all users who were signed in to their Google accounts. Now they have made the switch to secure search for all users.
What it means for SEO professionals & marketers
Yes, it is important to know what keywords and keyword phrases drive traffic to a website. This information can be used to determine the strategies applied in website, blog and social media content. For example, if you sell personalized jewelry, data collected from keyword searches can mean the difference between using “monogrammed necklaces” vs. “necklace with monogram” in your social media/blog posts and product descriptions on your website. Before encrypted search data, you could find out what people were searching for and then customize your marketing and content to lean closer to what your prospects were searching for.
Bottom line: this change will affect the ease of access to keyword information and if you’ve been using that information to guide your marketing content, you will need to adapt your SEO techniques.
What it means in plain English
Website owners and their webmasters will no longer see keyword-specific data in their Google Analytics search statistics. Instead, they will see “not provided” in the Keyword column, like this:
So, marketers and small business owners will no longer be able to track what keywords and keyword phrases brought users to their site. Google Adwords customers, i.e. paid advertisers, will still receive this data. Some speculate this is the reason for secure search; I don’t agree. I believe that Google, like everyone else, has huge concerns about online privacy and personally identifiable data.
This change does indeed make it harder to leverage keyword data to help steer your marketing plan. It pretty much forces SEO marketers to emphasize quality of content rather than to be motivated by keyword campaigns. I have ALWAYS encouraged my clients to focus on providing valuable, relevant content that appeals to their prospects and clients rather than focusing on ‘writing for the search engines’. This results in driving traffic in a genuine way.
You can still use the statistics generated by Google Analytics to create effective SEO campaigns. Take note of which pages/posts on your site have the most impact on your traffic. For instance, these are the top ten pages on my website:
Also, pay attention to Referrer statistics (like those below) to see where your off-site online marketing efforts are paying off. Do you get way more traffic from Pinterest than from Facebook? Do you get huge amounts of traffic from speaking engagements or events you’re involved in? Focus your efforts accordingly.
Last but not least…