The anguished cries of digital marketers echoed across the digital world last week as Google made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity. Most savvy marketers were aware that this change was due, especially since Google started encrypting searches for anyone who was logged into Google back in 2011. Still, the speed and covert nature of this change was rather surprising to all. According to Search Engine Land, the past month has seen a sudden increase in encryption on Google’s side:

The percentage of “not provided” search terms (i.e. terms that are encrypted) has increased steadily over the past two years, as Google started encrypting search terms. However in the past month, the amount of “not provided” content has spiked significantly.

The reason? “Extra protection” by way of secure searches for users, apparently, among other theories.

So, what happens to digital marketers now? Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world – in fact, it might even bode well for some. Here’s how to beat Google’s search encryption and produce relevant content for your users.

 

Find other platforms for keyword research

While you’ll definitely be seeing the keyword “(not provided)” a whole more, the good news is that it only impacts organic searches. This means that, if you link your company’s AdWords account with your Google Analytics account, you can still access the search query data saved there, and use it for your keyword research (credit to Larry Kim of Wordstream for pointing this out).

At the same time, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to find the keywords you rank for, by heading to “search traffic” and then “search queries”.

Neil Patel also suggests using SEMrush to grab data on the keywords your competitors are using. It is pretty simple to use – all you have to do is key in your competitor’s URL, and it will automatically churn out a list of keywords they are gunning for.

Armed with these tools, you’ll still be able to get a whole host of valuable keyword search data for search engine optimization purposes.

 

Focus on creating great (and relevant) content

Previously, Google’s PageRank algorithm seemed to reward low-quality articles that were merely packed with SEO keywords but made little sense to any human reading them. With this change, those who Joe Lazauskas term as “SEO-content spammers”, are no longer able to rely on search keyword data to pack their content farms with wafer thin articles.

Who wins? Those who create great content that normal human beings would actually read. No longer will people face the distress of having to sift through highly ranked blog article that read like gibberish. In other words, it is now worth spending money on creating content that is not keyword optimized, but will generate social shares and natural links instead.

This is something that we truly believe in at Zopim as well: building trust and solid relationships with compelling content. Once you have built a reputation as a reliable content provider, the page views and engagement will come naturally.

Not sure where to start? Copyblogger shares how to start investing in thoughtful in-depth content right here.

 

Don’t write off Bing and Yahoo!

Sure, Google searches might dominate 66.9% of searches (according to comScore a couple of months back). But Microsoft’s and Yahoo’s search engines aren’t doing too badly either, accounting for 17.9% and 11.4% of the search market share, respectively. Make the most of what you can get, and leverage data on search traffic from these alternative sources, too.

 

Ask your customers what they want

Content farms trawl through keyword data to figure out what the average person is searching for. Then they create useless content filled with these highly prized keywords. This is something that genuine marketers would abhor, however keyword data is still relevant to figure out what your customers are interested in. With Google’s latest update, this resource is no longer available.

But, there’s a better and simpler way to gauge what your customers are interested in. How? Simply ask them!

You can use simple tools, such as surveys, to ask your customers what kind of content they would like to see featured on your blog. This type of response will often also be more reliable than basic search terms.

Alternatively, you can use live chat to reach out to customers. Live chat is one of the only ways to connect with customers and obtain feedback in real time. Emails and phone calls take far too long and by the time you respond the customer may have moved on. Using live chat you can initiate a conversation, ask the customer what they are interested in, and provide support all at the drop of a hat.

 

Google is constantly changing its algorithm and being a corporation they have every right to do so. It is foolish to rely on data provided from a third-party for your content needs. Instead it’s better to use your own resources to create great material for your customers.

 

Marketers, what do you think about Google’s changes? Do you know of any other ways to work around them? Share away in the comments below!

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Daniel Tay

Freelance Writer
Daniel Tay is Editor-in-Chief of We Are Spaces, and sometimes freelance writer / editor. His byline can be found all over the web, but his home is at danieltay.me.

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