We survived Panda, Penguin, and a host of other near-crippling online marketing changes and sat on the edge or our seats awaiting this year’s massively new roll-out. Many of us hoped the delay meant nothing major was happening in the industry, but our hopes were swiftly dashed as Google announced its newest massive master business plan to revolutionize how we, as website owners, do business with them.
We’re not just talking about Hummingbird here, the search giant’s new algorithmic update that would provide users with richer and more conversational search results. It’s a huge modification and will affect 90% of all global searches. To keep up with the update, webmasters must maintain top-notch, rich content that can satisfy intent.
But that’s not only big news that SEOs should worry about. Earlier this month, Google announced that it would be encrypting all search activity within its walls, thus cutting off SEOs and marketers from accessing valuable keyword and search data.
The 2013 Google encryption roll-out is being implemented under the guise of privatizing the search information of the Google users. Now, this is something Google desperately needs if it is to keep the public customer based known as webs surfers. The bad news is that it will make the song and dance website owners, businesses, bloggers, online marketers, SEO IT specialists, and content writers do, a tremendously more difficult job. These make up the other half of the Google customer base and their main income source.
The 2013 Google Encryption News Brief
In a horribly tight nutshell, Google reported their intentions and plan to make changes aimed at encrypting all search activity except for clicks on their own ad activity. They added SSL encryption for signed-in search users in 2011 and Chrome Omnibox in early 2012. This new 2013 roll-out is aimed at anonymous users and is set to include them in the SSL encryption. Basically, it turns all websites from HTTP to HTTPS.
While Google is being accused of doing this under the guise of hiding customer activity from the NSA (National Security Agency) due to the accusation of giving the NSA access to search data in June of 2013, we cannot help but wonder if the real reason is simply a smart business move. That is, to force more people to purchase their services and specifically, Google AdWords. Which is more realistic, seeing that Google switched their keyword Tool to a paid service and combined it with Google AdWords back in July and August of 2013.
What the 2013 Google Encryption Means for Everybody Else
The 2013 Google Encryption (for lack of a better nickname like Panda or Penguin), means that anybody who relies on search data to fund their content and website data will no longer be able to identify which keywords lead traffic to their site. It means that we, as business owners and content creators, will have an even more difficult time finding out which keywords to use to target our market audience. Thus, limiting and even crippling visibility in user search for thousands, if not millions, of inexperienced and untrained website owners.
Google reported that the encryption would impact less than 10 percent of web-searches. Though, businesses and blog owners alike have reported a steady rise each month with near 100 percent encryption eminent by the end of this year from all Google specific searches.
Introducing Unknown-Keywords and Not Provided Count by Google 2013 Encryption
This new encryption update doesn’t just mean that web marketers, SEO techs, and content providers will lose some of their marketing data, it will mean they will lose all of it via Google services. Google tools and non-Google companies, which used Google tools to provide their customers with important data about traffic to their site, now see the two most dreaded words in the marketing industry: Unknown-Keywords and Not Provided Count. This means that they are not provided with what keywords lead customers to their websites as well as being left in the dark about how many were lead there. Although the current search data encryption is hovering at about 80 percent, it is only months until we reach 100 percent. The question from concerned site owners and marketing strategists are met with a cold shoulder and dead silence by Google.
The Six Google 2013 Data Encryption Workarounds
The situation seems hopeless to a lot of people. For many, there is nothing you can do to change the situation Google has crammed us into. However, we are not without hope. This new roll-out gives us new opportunities and drastically changes how we need to approach the target market.
First, SEO needs to be approached in totality, not just meta-data and keyword placement within content. As marketing specialists, we need to focus less on keyword conversion rates and more on serving the customers with relevant and authoritative websites. This means, we as online business and website owners, now have to rely less on SEO strategies and more on traditional lead generation strategies to achieve business objectives.
Second, while Google keyword and search data is nearing 100 percent anonymity, other search engines are still offering their data to site owners for free. Since roughly 30 to 35 percent of search traffic comes from other major search engine companies like AOL, Ask.com, Bing and Yahoo, we website owners still have access to a limited amount of search data about organic traffic.
Third, PPC marketing users still have access to their data via AdWords tools. Those who purchase online advertising can still see which keywords lead people to their ads and how much traffic those keyword optimized ads generated.
Fourth, page level tracking still works. This means that if we are smart, and good website owners should be this smart, we can still track entire pages of content. While we cannot tell which keywords lead to the organic traffic of that content, we can see how well the subject matter performed with our target audience. Thus, promoting the ability to see which subjects appeal to which customers or sell which products.
Fifth, it will force us to better utilize incomplete data coming in and make us smarter when it comes to online marketing. We will have to work harder to find the data, we can no longer rest on our laurels and expect content tracking programs to do the heavy lifting. This means we will have to spend more time optimizing content, social media, and advertising campaigns for real world users instead of search engine algorithm programs.
Finally, it will force us to rethink the way we do business and marketing both online and off. No longer can we rest our hope on Google data, we must find better means for traffic, marketing, conversions, and market reach. We must broaden our approach when it comes to SEO and learn to work smarter and utilize data better. For some, this may mean finally taking the plunge into PPC (online advertisement) marketing. For others, it may mean adding affiliate or networking strategies to their marketing mix.
How to Transcend the Google 2013 Encryption
As our peers suddenly find their SEO strategies flat-lining and their website marketing efforts grinding to a halt, is there a way to transcend the old methods of marketing? Indeed there is, and it will take a melding of old, new, offline, network marketing, and even MLM strategies to make our efforts shine.
Eight Top Golden Rules for Survival:
1. We must let go of the idea that the top two slots on search results are the best from a marketing standpoint. Although most people rarely go as deep as five pages into search results, being on top of page one is not as important as we thought. Instead, optimize for the title and snippet within search results, aiming to capture reader attention above competitors.
2. Traffic count and social following count are not as relevant as actual sales and lead generation. Those with the most traffic or social following are not necessarily the most successful businesses. Instead of getting lost in the numbers, get lost in making your efforts count towards the bottom line, your bottom line financially. If you are not making increased sales along with increased traffic, then relearn how to reach your target market through content and value of that content.
3. SEO mastery is not something better left to the IT tech or web designer. If you want a website that really sells, let the specialists do their own job. This means the designer catches the audience through visual design, the IT tech manages functionality of the website, the marketer manages the ad campaigns, the PR rep manages public reach outside the internet, and you hire a content creator who knows how to reach the heart of your target market in ways which lead to sales.
4. Linking URLS is not the end all of traffic. Truthfully, if some URLs lead to or from bad neighborhoods, it will still hurt business. So be careful of your online bedfellows. On the other hand, all the links in the world will not help generate sales anymore than page rank or social media. You can lead people to your site but you can’t make them buy. Focus, instead, on the value your site provides your potential and returning customers. Aim to reach them through content, site usability, and a product which sells itself because it is useful. Follow that up with links that add value, to your site or complementary companies.
5. Content still is no more useful than SEO strategies. While good content sells, good SEO helps tremendously with getting it there in the first place. Even though Google is making us fly blind, a good SEO strategy is still a winning emblem of good site management. The old rules still apply, do what works for your site and your product and yours alone, with a view to avoiding anything which smacks of spam to search engines programs. Optimize to readers, not search engines, but still spend time on back-end search engine optimization.
6. Realize that social media and SEO tactics are teammates of a good marketing strategy. Yes, social media needs to tell your story and put the product and branding in potential customers line of sight, but it also needs to be easy to find and define. One big thing many social media strategies miss out on is getting caught up in the fun of sharing without utilizing it to lead potential customers back to the mother ship. Apply good SEO tactics to social media campaigns make sure every post leads them to the website without being too self-serving. Scratch others backs once in a while too, and they will scratch yours back.
7. SEO strategies DO NOT mean defining exact keywords and repeating them or creating fancy header tags. These outdated optimization techniques are now part of the spam flag triggers implemented in passing years by the Google company during penguin, panda, and their entire zoo and parking lot of massive-scale updates. So, the new strategy is to change up SEO. Optimized instead for a solid theme of content per page, and only use header and sub-header tags and other HTML codes to maintain visual appeal of the site.
8. Visualize your website, social media, and advertising simply as the gateway to your products. Think of them as a method to teaching your clients briefly, who you are, what you do, where you are, your values, and how you can serve them. Leave them wanting more, hungry for how you can fulfill their needs, but with enough information as to make an informed decision about why they should buy from you, without being too pushy.
How to Survive the 2013 Google Changes
Remember that Google is a business and like all other businesses, they are going to do what makes the best financial sense for them. In the aftermath of this year’s roll-out, remember not to get to caught up in the tragedies it will cause. Instead, begin by implementing a well-rounded approach and common sense when it comes to marketing. Broaden your approach in marketing to include online, offline, networking, and MLM strategies. Traffic count does not equal prosperity unless the content and the product reaches the hearts and serves the needs of the prospect.
Therefore, to survive this update, we must make firm our resolve to broaden our education and open our mind to new marketing strategies and efforts. While many of us cannot afford to take the time to revamp our entire website, its content, or our social media campaign. We can, and should, work towards a better internet and website experience for our prospective clientele. In so doing, we will come out on top of the marketing game.
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Gavin Llewellyn via photopin cc