If you are following any of the buzz in the Search Engine world you know that Google has made a change that has everyone up in arms. Google has recently announced that they are encrypting all non-paid searches. While there are many out there that may lead you to believe that the sky is falling and that Google is the evil empire responsible for making it fall. I want to focus on the things that we can control and help you move on with confidence. I also want to look at what exciting possibilities are ahead of us in the world of search.
A Brief (not provided) History
Google is encrypting data, what does this mean to you? In the past you could visit your Google Analytics account and view your top keyword report. This report provided webmasters, SEOs and marketers with the ability to see the actual search terms that people used to find their sites. They could use that data as one metric to determine how well their site performed in relation to a specific keyword. About two years ago Google decided to encrypt (or essentially take away) data for any user that is logged into Google. When Google made that decision they handed marketers a big black box we know as (not provided). For the last two years if you view your keyword report in Google Analytics the number one keyword on the list would be (not provided), which was Google’s way of saying, “all the encrypted data that you can’t see anymore.” With that move Google was able to take away a large amount of keyword data that we have available as marketers. But Google did leave us with the breadcrumbs of information that non-logged in Google users provided, until now. On September 23rd, 2013 Google announced that all non-paid search data will now be encrypted and added to the big black box that is (not provided). Why would Google do this? Many say it is so we are all forced into buying AdWords (in other words paid search) ads to get the data, and others feel like it is a privacy and security measure that is long over due. My personal opinion is that I will never know and there is nothing I can do to change it so I need to adapt and move on.
The Future of (not provided) SEO
Recently Google has made many changes that have really drastically changed the SEO game. When you consider those changes the move to encrypting all non-paid search traffic should not be a big shock. In the past SEOs would focus on getting more links to their site, and cramming keywords into content. As search and Google has evolved it has become apparent that Google is putting an emphasis on authority, and social signals. So while many marketers are reacting like Michael Scott I’m personally excited for the future of search and I think that you can rest easy if you consider a few things and take a couple of actions today to be will positioned for the future.
- Establish Authorship and begin building Author Rank. This is an important step to establishing Authority by attaching your name and face to the content that you create.
- Get to know Bing and Google Webmaster Tools. These tools are not perfect but they do provide some ranking and keyword data.
- Get to know Google Analytics advanced segments. Learn how to apply advanced segments to monitor how non-paid search traffic interacts with your site.
- Plan your content creation and optimize the page not the keyword. If you have created a page to target a specific target market get to know your Google Analytics and monitor that pages individual performance.
Search is going to continue to evolve. Google is really working hard to develop Google Now and Bing is working on a similar concept called One Microsoft. As these products develop we could be living in a world where we talk to our devices and our devices will search not only the web but our calendar, our email, our friends list, and all of the personal information they know about us. This future is scary and exciting and is a lot closer than you think. Take a listen to the demo of Google Now. If you had to market to this user what keywords would you use to target a searcher using very conversational language? When you think about keywords in this light maybe Google is doing us a favor by weening us off of keyword data.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH0pYhKTvuc[/youtube]