In an interview with Search Engine Land, an online journal covering all things in the search engine industry, Google confirmed that they have encrypted all search activity performed through their search engine. This will have a profound effect on all web analytics tools, including Google Analytics. In short, it will no longer be possible for SEO marketers using any analytics system to know what keywords have been searched for before visiting a website from Google.com. Google is now only sharing search terms with its advertisers.
Was this a reaction to the NSA snooping scandal that was revealed by Edward Snowden? Perhaps. You will recall that, in June, Snowden leaked information about PRISM, allegedly a program conducted by the NSA to collect from Google (among other sources) any and all data that they requested. Google has denied this, but criticism and skepticism over Google's handling of private search records persists, and Google has been eager to get the controversy behind them.
Google also made it clear that, if you want results, you can track keyword search through the Google AdWords system. If you subscribe to Google Webmaster Tools you can view the top 2,000 per day, going back 90 days for now and increasing to as much as a year sometime in the near future. So, as far as Google is concerned, what's all the fuss about?
Our partner, HubSpot, estimates that 67% of the search engine market share belongs to Google. This means that, currently, only one third of the keyword data which greases the cogs of inbound marketing is available to marketers. Those sources are Bing and Yahoo. If you want the other two thirds, you'll have to advertise with Google. However, don't make the mistake in thinking that keywords are dead. Google still plans to share them with those very advertisers.
Michael Lieberman, of Square 2 Marketing has a very pragmatic approach to this situation, and we agree with his assessment. This decision by Google doesn't change the essence of inbound marketing. If anything, it affirms it. Digital marketing is all about content. The more content that you produce, the greater your search engine reach will be. Keep it unique, keep it fresh, and keep it coming!
Indeed, a robust social media presence will also become more critical to your marketing plan. Sharing content, and getting your name front and center, is more vital than ever. Do you ignore LinkedIn, and find Twitter to be superficial? You may want to reconsider that tactic.
We know that some in our industry are apoplectic over this change in the dynamics of inbound marketing. Everything that has been moving in one direction now seems to have no direction at all. We say, not so fast. Look, marketing has been a moving target for a number of years. Be patient. Stay the course.
Oh, and if you don't think your marketing plan is up to the task, give us a call. We can help.