WASHINGTON, October 19, 2013 — Just when everyone assumed they had figured out how to rank higher in Google search results, the giant engine announced additional changes to its algorithms. In fact, these changes will have a direct impact on marketing efforts, since it blocks marketers from seeing the very search engine terms that are leading visitors to their websites.
Called “Secure Search,” the changes are designed to keep hackers out, according to Google. But it’s significant that clients who pay for ads on Google Adwords for designated keywords will have full access to information about the keywords that are leading customers to them. In other words, you can have the information…but you no longer get it for free.
What does this mean for marketers? Those who use web analytics tools will now see “(not provided)” or some similar comment when they try to determine how their efforts are paying off. This creates a real problem, because marketers are flying blind when it comes to their SEO efforts, unless they’re willing to pay extra.
But are they really blind? Marketers still have several options, so let’s look at them.
Use Google Webmaster Tools
Google is offering some information to those who use the company’s webmaster tools. The tools offer several options to improve page rank, so there are clear advantages to using them.
Because the webmaster tools require a login to a secure site, this confirms Google’s claim that it’s simply trying to protect data from hackers. But these tools will only provide access to data on the top 2,000 queries for a site during a particular period of time.
It’s also not real-time data, according to an article in the New York Times.
Use other search engines
While it’s unlikely, the notion that this change might drive significant numbers of people to Bing and Chrome is an amusing one. Oh, the irony!
But marketers know that Google is still by far the most popular search engine in the world. Google knows it, too. All this power means Google can enforce whatever changes it wants and the world has no choice but to accept it.
However, Google’s first loyalty is to its users, which is why many of its changes are geared toward keeping search engine results as organic as possible. Still, these changes could lead marketers to pay more attention to analytics for other search engines. It follows that by paying attention to these other services, marketers could reach a new group of consumers.
Pay for Adwords
Perhaps this is the “If you can’t beat them, join them” option. But by using Google Adwords, marketers will give themselves an edge. Unfortunately, this option can be very costly, since marketers will only receive results on keywords that work.
As compensation, Google does provide a handy keyword planner to help marketers locate the perfect set of keywords for their campaigns.
Choose great keywords
You can still employ your sharp marketing sense to choose the right keywords and rank well. Search for keywords related to your business and note what the competition is doing that you aren’t. Create valuable, high-quality content that uses those same keywords on your own page and you’ll soon notice your site making its way up the list of search engine results.
While Google will likely continue to enact changes that make marketers’ jobs a little more challenging, it’s important that both marketers and businesses learn to work with those changes. Google is, after all, interested in providing the best, most relevant content possible for its users.
By helping Google meet that goal, you’ll both rank well and improve the quality of your own online presence.
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