Google’s Motives Behind Secure Search: Interview with Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics

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I caught up with Marcus Tober, CTO of Searchmetrics, to discuss the recent news of Google’s keyword data for paid search becoming ‘not provided’. Marcus shared his thoughts on this shift and provided some insight about what it means for the future of paid search.

In my interview with Marcus I asked him what are Google’s motives behind this change, and how it’s going to affect the industry. I also asked if there’s any possibility of those who are unhappy with Google moving over to Bing instead.

For my full interview with Marcus, please see the video below:

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • Marcus has a strong opinion about secure search. He believes users should ask if security is the primary concern, why didn’t Google encrypt search data for both organic and paid search at the same time? Marcus doesn’t know anyone who is vouching for Google and saying secure search is benefiting users, which raises the questions about the motives behind it.
  • As a company, Google can do at they wish, but their actions have an impact on the organic search and paid search industries. Keywords provide information about user intention, and it’s important to know what keywords drive the most business. With limited access to keyword data, Marcus says he has to throw more keywords and strategies at the wall to see what sticks, so to speak.

Image Credit: Flickr user Todd Kravos

  • Marcus believes this assumption that Google made this change to drive more revenue from AdWords may be correct, because if you don’t know exactly which keywords are driving conversions you have to bid on more keywords to try to earn more clicks.
  • As a businessman, Marcus understands Google’s motivation. In the end it may even be better for consumers because they are being super-served with relevant results to their queries due to advertisers bidding on so many keywords. Google is not losing anything, users are not losing anything, only marketers are losing out by having access to less data.
  • Marcus says Searchmetrics has a unique way of reverse engineering keywords on a landing page level to a keyword level, it’s a solution no one else has because of the depth of Searchmetrics’ historical database. 
  • You can’t reverse engineer everything, but Marcus believes the information needed to make business decisions is not 100% based on keywords, it can also be based on assumptions and by measuring trends.
  • Searchmetrics is capable of reverse engineering between 20-50% of keyword data on a landing page level, which Marcus says is enough to make good decisions.
  • Marcus suggests companies should consider Bing because they have significant market share in the US of around 20%. Companies should look at Bing not only because of secure search, but also because of they have the opportunity to drive traffic and revenue from that 20% of the market.
  • Marcus says Bing will eventually shift to secure search as well, so there is no long-term opportunity for marketers to use it as an alternative to gain insights about keyword data.

For more video interviews please visit SEJ’s YouTube page.


Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands

Murray Newlands FRSA is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and speaker. Newlands is also an adviser to the Draper Nexus Network of Things Fund that invests in IOT companies. He advises entrepreneurs and start-ups on various subjects from funding to growth strategies. Newlands received a Bachelor of Laws and he is qualified as a Lawyer. He gained his Green Card by being recognized by the US government as an “alien of extraordinary ability.” Newlands is the author of “Online Marketing: A User’s Manual” published by John Wiley & Sons. Murray regularly contributes to Forbes and Entrepreneur. Murray co-authored Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals with Bruce Clay. Murray runs the agency Influence People based in Palo Alto.
Murray Newlands
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  • Suri

    So Google, Bing want to screw webmasters, they created schema.

    Now They want to screw marketers. What is next ??

  • Norm Miller

    Correct me if I am wrong, but while they are not passing the search phrase in the url, that data is still available under the Adwords Search Phrases report.

    In fact Bing recently changed their search phrases report to include all known search phrases. Google still only shows mostly the search phrases that people clicked on, but the point is it is my understanding they are not doing way with providing the search phrases report, they are just securing that data from being passed in the url.

    Am I wrong?