By now, you’ve probably heard that Google has moved to completely encrypting its organic search queries. The company has been phasing in SSL encryption for several years, but the switch is now complete and you can expect to hear more about it in the future.
Does “(not provided)” ring a bell? If you’re regularly checking your website’s analytics, you’ll recognize this as the two-word phrase that has replaced most, if not all, of the organic keywords in your Google Analytics reports. That’s the future of Google’s organic search analytics. If you’re interested in learning more about the back story and implications of this switch, check out this comprehensive report on the subject.
Grumble All You Want, Then Evolve
Google claims that its new SSL encryption policy is designed to “protect” its users, but industry experts have many different theories about its real motives. Regardless of why the company decided to cut off organic keyword tracking, the fact remains that you no longer have access to a valuable marketing tool and you may be wondering what recourse you have.
As a successful business owner, you’ve surely faced down tougher challenges than this. Like many setbacks, Google’s switch could actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Many firms have decided that this is a perfect opportunity to embrace the power of Google AdWords.
Google AdWords: Beyond Pay-Per-Click Advertising
AdWords helps you create text or multimedia ads that target specific keyword searches. You can get ideas for targeted keywords using AdWords’s free Keyword Planner tool or by checking your website’s analytics reports on non-Google organic searches. Remember, Bing, Yahoo and others haven’t yet switched to encrypted search.
More importantly, think about the specific products or services that draw prospects to your site. If you sell customized cakes to a local customer base, experiment with product-specific or location-specific terms like “handmade wedding sheet cakes” or “customized cakes in Hempstead, New York.” Avoid more generic keywords like “wedding cakes.” Even though generic searches turn up lots of hits, most users won’t be interested in whatever you’re selling, and your conversion rates will plummet as a result.
Once you’ve selected some relevant keywords, it’s easy to leverage your new AdWords campaign to discover high-conversion keywords – a process that we call “keyword discovery” or simply “intelligence gathering.” When you connect your AdWords account to your Google Analytics hub, you’ll be able to see which targeted keywords are drawing the most inbound traffic and achieving the highest conversion rates.
You might be surprised by what you find. Depending on your settings, you can show your ads for keyword phrases that you don’t specifically select. By measuring conversion rates for all AdWords keyword searches, you could uncover keywords that you didn’t even know were driving traffic to your site. Using this information, you can tailor future AdWords buys as well as the actual content on your site to incorporate these high-value keywords and further improve your conversion rates.
Opening New Content Marketing Avenues
If you’ve worked with us before, you know that we’re evangelical about the potential of engaging, relevant, unique content for changing the course of a marketing campaign. There’s never a situation in which repetitive, non-relevant boilerplate outperforms customized content, which distills the best aspects of your brand and establishes your firm as an authority in its field.
That said, powerful content has particular relevance for your AdWords driven marketing activities. There’s no longer any need to stuff your content with keywords, but you can and should use your high-conversion AdWords keywords as inspiration for future content marketing efforts.
Here’s a simple example: If you analyze an AdWords buy for “handmade wedding sheet cakes” and find that searches for “handmade anniversary sheet cakes” are converting at higher rates, it could be worthwhile to write some blog posts about anniversary cakes or create a new website page that highlights this particular offering. As you establish yourself as a local authority in the anniversary cake business, the investment in new content and your ongoing AdWords expenses could seem trivial when compared to the new business that the campaign generates.
We’ll close by noting the obvious: AdWords isn’t a “miracle cure” that will automatically take your online marketing campaign to the next level. Since AdWords advertising(?) isn’t free, it’s crucial to maintain a disciplined, well-planned campaign that can easily be synced with your ongoing keyword discovery activities. Don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra help – we’ve been conducting focused, responsive AdWords campaigns for years and are happy to show you how it’s done.