If you’re sick of hearing how Google’s algorithm changes may affect inbound traffic to your website, stop reading here. The company’s recent shifts might not be the sexiest topics of conversation, but they have a big impact on your company’s ability to generate online leads and sales.
This post discusses one of those recent changes – encrypted search.
What Is Encrypted Search?
If you watch your site’s Google Analytics reports, you’ve already seen a slew of “(not provided)” results where your keyword results should be. Each (not provided) result is the outcome of an encrypted query. For the past couple years, the search giant has been phasing in keyword encryption for signed-in Google users. Whether these users search for “buttermilk pancakes” or “fiberglass insulation,” site owners who receive their inbound hits see meaningless results in place of relevant keywords.
To compound the issue, Google recently announced that it would be switching to 100-percent encrypted search – that is, every organic keyword search will eventually return a (not provided) result. There’s no firm deadline for this switch, but you need to proceed as if it has already happened and adjust your marketing plan accordingly.
Salvaging Your Site’s Keywords
If you can no longer rely on organic keywords to learn how inbound leads find you, what can you do?
First, leverage Google AdWords. If you haven’t already signed up for this service, now’s the time to take the plunge. Since it uses a dynamic pricing system, AdWords lets you conduct robust keyword research by showing you which paid search terms cost more than others. In other words, the platform lets you cross-check your probable organic search results – even though you can no longer directly see them – with high-ranking paid search terms.
You can also use Webmaster Tools from Bing,Yahoo and Google – all of which still divulge organic keyword results – to directly check your organic results. While it’s not guaranteed that your site’s ranking keywords are one and the same on Google and Bing, they probably are close.
Meanwhile, trending social media topics can make up some of the difference. Following your industry’s entrepreneurs, thought leaders and end users on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn can open up new, non-obvious content marketing avenues. This leads into our takeaway.
The Way Forward
If you want to rank highly for specific search terms in the future, paid search – AdWords – probably needs to be part of your marketing mix. More broadly, though, you’ll need to focus on creating content that doesn’t rely on any single platform to reach leads and potential customers. Pay attention to the makeup of your audience – and customers – and craft content that provides much-needed information about your products and services, establishes your business as an industry authority and doesn’t try to close sales on the first go. Remember, it’s not all about how people find you online. It’s about what they find as well.