Nov 1, 2011

Google conceals keyword source of traffic

Although we don’t usually get too “techy” here on the Wax blog, there are some changes from Google that may affect search results. Here Thomas Doane explains those changes and how they might affect your blog or site.  

In order for businesses to be competitive today, they need to have an online presence that spans everything from social media to marketing to search engine optimization (SEO). Knowing what strategies to use and how to use them effectively can mean the difference between a business thriving or failing.

Email marketing has proven to be a reliable, measurable strategy if used effectively and sites that connect users and businesses through the online coupon market have proven to be effective at driving sales for small companies. All forms of marketing, particularly on the Internet, rely on producing measurable results. If an advertiser can’t see exactly how their marketing initiatives are impacting their business, they won’t know how effective their campaigns are or whether they should drop a campaign or extend it. That’s why Google’s recent announcement that it will be encrypting search queries for users signed into their Google accounts is troubling to some observers. The search giant has cited user security as their main motivation for the change, but it will have serious impacts on SEO while Google’s own AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) service won’t be affected at all.


Users Will Have More Secure Results

The whole reason Google is doing any of this is for the security of its users. It’s possible that Google fears that someone will discover a way to trace potentially sensitive search information back to specific users or use the search engine’s lack of encryption to infect users’ machines or access features of their Google account. Also of note is that some countries censor Internet traffic, particularly on Google. If Google were to encrypt the search data for those countries, it may allow people in those countries to perform searches freely and protect them from possible punitive measures by their governments. For now only users signed into the Google accounts or those deliberately visiting https://www.google.com are affected, but it’s likely that Google will roll out the encryption to more users as time goes on.

SEO Data Collection Will Be Hampered

Though only 1% of searches will allegedly be affected, the loss of data for SEO efforts could have a large impact. The overall methods of on-page SEO won’t be affected. Sites will still need to produce quality content, have a clear user interface and generally construct their site to appeal to users and their interests. Targeting specific keywords, however, will be hampered, especially as more and more people sign up for Google accounts and remain signed in. Because companies will no longer be able to see exactly what search phrases are bringing users to their site, their ability to determine which keywords to target and which SEO campaigns have the greatest return will be hampered. They will still be able to see the overall pictures and Google will still provide a list of the top 1000 search terms that bring users to their site, but further SEO efforts will be less accurate.

PPC Campaigns Won’t be Affected

Google won’t be providing specific keyword data to websites that show up in organic search listings, but it will continue providing the same data to users of Google’s own ad network, AdSense. Because Google provides this service for a fee, the company feels that its customers need to be able to access this data. If advertisers could no longer see specific results for their campaigns many of them would likely scale back their PPC efforts and focus elsewhere. Further, the ability to see exactly what keywords will produce their ads can help them refine their campaigns, enabling them to better target longtail keywords.

 

Some have lambasted Google’s decision to deny keyword data on organic results but provide that data for PPC saying that the search engine is encouraging companies to switch from paying for SEO campaigns to paying for AdSense ads. In the end, though, the use of PPC and SEO are necessary for any well-balanced Internet marketing initiative.

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8 comments on “Google conceals keyword source of traffic”

  1. Great article. I think enough people will do Google searches while not logged in that we will be able to collect the information needed to strategize website optimization.

    This statement might be a miss “It’s possible that Google fears that someone will discover a way to trace potentially sensitive search information back to specific users”. This has been going on for years. In fact, whenever one of our clients purchases website design, we automatically put visitor tracking software on the website that can do this. Our clients can click through on a specific visitor and see what search terms they used to get to the site, what search engine, which pages they looked at an in what order, how long they were on each page, what they downloaded, the city and state where they are located, the name of their internet provider, the size of their computer screen, the brand and edition of their internet browser, and their IP address. If someone wanted to get really nosey, one could get a person’s individual name from the IP address. I use all of this information in developing SEO strategies.

    November 2nd, 2011 at 8:36 am

  2. Thanks Gary, for your insight. I think search strategies are something we all need to understand as we’re developing our online presence.

    November 2nd, 2011 at 9:18 am

  3. This is really something to look at and consider. Our IT dept. tries to adapt to all the current trends and changes in the online industry so as our real estate clients get the best marketing for their dollar as they try to sell. Thank you for this insightful article.

    November 4th, 2011 at 7:29 am

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    November 8th, 2011 at 12:20 am

  5. I can’t believe Google will force people into signing up for a google account to use their search. I believe it will get annoying when using multiple devices to keep signing in.

    November 14th, 2011 at 1:30 pm

  6. It seems like Google is constantly making changes in order to make organic SEO more difficult, and benefit their own Google Adwords system in the sense of making it a more feasible alternative for internet marketing. Considering the prices now-a-days to run a PPC campaign, it is ridiculous, and I feel as though Google is starting to ‘monopolize’ the internet marketing industry.

    November 21st, 2011 at 11:20 am

  7. Google won’t be providing specific keyword data to websites,its continouslly changing it gets annoying to follow..

    December 5th, 2011 at 6:26 am

  8. Search Marketing is becoming more and more important to businesses and not just those solely online. As already mentioned there are a lot of information to weed through and the benefits of having us as the single point. Search Marketing of which it is now commonly known has come a long way since the days of Search Engine Optimisation. In the early days all you had to do is build a nice site with some good content then off you go building links to your site. With good content and enough backlinks with a particular anchor text would be enough. However things have changed a lot over time and search engines also. More people now use the internet than ever. And it is of course big business with everyone wanting a slice.

    December 10th, 2011 at 10:15 am