You may have noticed that the online marketing strategist in your life has been sweating a little more than usual these days. It’s not because the heat inside your building is set to unnaturally high temperatures to combat the cold. Thanks to recent changes in search engine security, online marketing has just gotten a bit more challenging.
Major search engines – including Google, Yahoo, and little brother Bing – are looking to find that sweet spot between customer privacy and satisfaction. As Christopher Soghoian, technology researcher and Principal Technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, stated during his speech with Edward Snowden at SXSW, “Google, Yahoo and other internet companies want to sit between the conversations you have with your friends and add value…That business model is incompatible with your security, with your having a secure, end-to-end connection to your friends.”
Players in the virtual world were up in arms after revelations about government internet monitoring were brought to life (synopsis here). In response, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and six other integral names in the information exchange mix formed Global Government Surveillance Reform. This committee strives to limit government oversight of user data and increase transparency of back-end snooping.
So why are marketing strategists feeling the stress? You may notice (or, if you didn’t, you will notice it now) that after you type a search into Google, the resulting page URL begins with HTTPS. This extraneous S automatically encrypts data, or veils them to potential eavesdroppers. This means that keywords, or search terms that eventually lead a potential customer to your site, will no longer be included in analytics.
Yes, keyword searches are an important piece of the marketing puzzle. They provide valuable insight into how you can move your website up the Google food chain. However, this recent layer of protection is not an impenetrable barrier. Here are some ways that you can respond to this strategy change:
- Enlist outside help. Programs offering ways to interpret available data have begun to surface. For example, gShift Labs recently unveiled Not Provided, a program that analyzes daily metrics to offer popular keywords. Their website advises this product is best for medium-sized-and-up companies, so if you’re a small business, this may not be the route for you.
- Pay to play. Those who advertise on Google using AdWords still receive keyword data. Yahoo and Bing do not. This handy chart breaks down the differences between each major search engine’s handling of secure search.
- Keep doing what you’re doing, and then some. You are the expert on your intended audience. When maintaining your online presence, it’s important to research key terms and common subjects; however, trying to stick to a few choice statements puts barriers on creativity and increases the chance of redundancy. Having limited contact with keywords limits your chances of self-imposed restraint. Given that changes in security protocol will not affect current rankings on search engines, embrace your new found freedom and get creative with content!
Look at it this way, marketing gurus: secure searching is a challenge, but not a barrier. It’s time to let your flag fly: highlight your great design of infographics and not your ability to work “changemaker” and “sustainability” onto every page. If you build it, and build it well, your well-protected clientele will come.