100% not provided
For two years, digital marketers have been growing increasingly frustrated with the rise of "Keyword (not provided)" appearing in their Google analytics data.
Callum Adamson: head of SEO at the7stars
The website at notprovidedcount.com is now reporting that more than 80 per cent of keyword data is not being provided by Google, which will soon be 100 per cent now that Google is moving its default search to SSL.
Does this signify that Google is finally taking full advantage of its search monopoly? Does it mean the final death knell for SEO? How should digital marketers be preparing for this shift?
Let’s ignore the quite frightening possibility that Google is going Terminator-style "skynet" on us and will continue to squeeze every available advertising opportunity into a search engine results page that it can until its "organic" results begin on page two. Instead let's focus on the fact that this move to 100 per cent secure search does not make our job impossible, it just changes the process by which we help to create a better web by using other information sources.
So we have to start with the fact that when Google sends a visitor to our site, we now do not know what they searched for in order to reach us. We all know that "assuming" the keywords people will use to find our site is not exactly scientific or justifiable as a marketing technique. So let’s look at a possible solution for this:
We know as marketers where our relevant keywords rank within search engine results pages – that’s part of our job. We also know which URLs these keywords correspond to, and thankfully, we are still provided with traffic data on all landing pages within Google analytics:
We also know what search volumes these keywords represent, by using Google’s keyword planning tool.
So now we know that we:
- Have pages that rank for traffic driving keywords
- Have pages that we can improve rank (and traffic) for
- Have pages that we can improve the experience (and conversions) on
This has solved our first big problem – "How do we deal with the move to 100% not provided?"
We still have a larger issue at hand however – "How will secure search affect the future of SEO?"
Personally, I feel that we should be moving towards terminology that is focused on "digital visibility" and less on "search engine optimisation".
When we first started optimising pages for search there was only really one main way of someone discovering your site, and that was by searching using a keyword. Now there are literally hundreds of ways of a user discovering your site, from social recommendations to a mention in one of their friend’s Vines.
This makes our job increasingly complex but also has a very real benefit to our industry. It is weeding out those that can talk a good show and those that can deliver true incremental results from optimisation techniques.
The future of SEO lies in talent, and specifically talent from two different sources:
- Technological development
The tools we use as marketers are becoming better and better at giving us the information that Google will not. For example, here at the7stars we have invested in technology that allows us access to the largest cache of keyword, search volume and traffic data outside of Google itself.
Digital marketing professionals who are capable of finding, interpreting and actioning insights from data sources will become the "SEO rockstars" or should I say "digital visibility rockstars" of the future. We are playing in a much more complex user environment that requires a deeper understanding of all platforms and how to use them to attract users to your site.
Callum Adamson is head of SEO at the7stars
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