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Google Goes Dark: Now What?

Posted on October 30, 2013 in Incredible Marketing News, SEM, SEO

Here are 5 tips to adjust to Google’s new data blackout!

As any search specialist would tell you – it was bound to happen.  As of immediately, Google has shut down access to organic keyword tracking information.  Online marketers have thrived for over a decade in knowing where traffic was coming from and how a specific keyword played into delivering traffic. In other words, we used to know what keywords drove the most traffic to your site, and now we don’t. Since this is no longer the case, it is time to shift how you market your business.

Google, in a press release following the most significant update to their search algorithm in over a decade, said that the updates are security related.  They discuss the privacy of users online, and on the heels of PRISM and NSA concerns, this seems like appropriate timing. Read more on the Google Blog here.

Unfortunately, this is not the whole story.  Google is still releasing data, just as before . . . if you pay for it.  This means that paying users for adwords, or other similar programs, will still have access to some (but not all) keyword data. This is an interesting contradiction considering that users’ privacy seems to be at the core of their intents, thought they are still making this information available as long as you pay for it.

So what does this all mean for you?

Quite simply, if you’re marketing your website through any SEO techniques, you need to be diverse.  Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has focused on the following key points of emphasis:

Create quality content. Knowing what keywords converted at the highest rate, or which keywords drove the most traffic, has long been a key performance indicator and acid test for the efficacy of any search campaign. Now that organic keyword data of this sort is encrypted (“not-provided”), the best way to determine how effective a keyword is at driving revenue and improving your online presence is by measuring user engagement metrics like social shares, bounce rate or duration of visit. Creating quality content (i.e. content that establishes thought-leadership, adds value to your community, and informs) has been an important part of the search puzzle for the last year, and today, it that piece of the puzzle just got bigger.

Make sure linking campaigns are organic.  Understanding how people link to you, and why, is now more critical than ever.  Google has come down hard on low-authority websites that participate in paid link networks associated with spammy directories and network sites. These sites sole purpose is to game the system for priority in the search results.  A quality linking campaign is strategized and implemented with long term goals in mind — and always based around quality content! (see above).

Be Social. Aside from its increasing importance in the search algorithm, monitoring and participating in your business’ virtual identity across different social platforms opens a window into the mind of your visitor. Engaging in the “conversation” online tells us what words your customers use to talk about your business and your services, and those words tell us which keywords drive the most traffic.

So, if we know that moving forward we won’t know the keywords that drive traffic to your website, and we know what Google is looking for in their algorithm, what can a business owner like yourself do to thrive in a competitive market?

1. Track website traffic month by month.  Website traffic will now be as big of a barometer as ever.  If traffic drops, don’t panic, and make sure you work with a search specialist to find out exactly why.

2. Analyze website content pages.  Content pages will now be crucial in determining what pages are being entered, and if organic traffic to certain pages is increasing or decreasing.  Specific content pages should be created with specific         keywords in mind, and these should be tracked together.

3. Know where you rank!  As always, know how to track your keyword placement and keep this placement going for your “top keyword terms”. Of course variations will be important, but limit your list and build content to boost these prized terms.

4. Be proactive in social media and optimize yourself locally. Engage, connect, and increase your online visibility through social media! You should be posting exciting content that will drive referral traffic to your website. Google+ is the new kid on the block, and Google search results now showcase elements of your Google+ profile such as posts, pages, images & profiles! Make sure your Google+ business page is tied to your Google Local, optimize it, and use hashtags on keywords in your posts.

5. Create Incredible Content!   Last but certainly not least, create content, and make sure that the content is interesting, relevant, engaging and socially engaging.  The better your content and the more of it you create, whether its written, video, imagery or user generated, the more Google will respond and the higher your website will rank organically.

Ultimately, whether you are an online marketer or a business owner with a presence online, Google is going to continue to lock down its data, and what needs to remain the focus is making websites interesting, compelling and placing them as the leader in the industry.   A savvy online business will continue to manage its SEO campaign by paying more attention to other analytic information.  Finally, strategize and implement a comprehensive social campaign that focuses on the Google properties (Google + Local, Google Business Pages), and engages your users.

If you are ready to take your online marketing to the next level, we will show you exactly the right path to take, utilizing the newest strategies, and always making cost conscious decisions. We’re web scientists with attitude! Online marketing experts, to be exact…

Incredible Marketing is a full-service internet marketing firm specializing in SEO and Social Media, Mobile Websites, and Custom Web Design. You can be Incredible too!  Call us at 800-949-0133 or visit our website!