Those concerned with Google search, SEO and keywords are in an uproar today. Facebook, Twitter, and websites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Watch are busy commenting on Google’s latest actions. In case you’ve missed it, Google has switched to secure search for U.S. users. What does that mean to you? It means that “Not Provided” is rapidly becoming the default for organic keyword referrals in Google analytics.
Encrypted search is not new. Google began using it in 2011, noting that it was intended to prevent eavesdropping on searches made by individuals. In an article on Search Engine Journal, Loren Baker suggests that the quiet move to making encrypted search the default is Google’s answer to the recent PRISM-NSA spying scandal. The alternate theory is that Google is seeking to boost use of their paid ad system, since keywords for PPC ads will be shared with publishers. If the only way to see which keywords drive traffic to your site is pay-per-click keywords, more emphasis on this tactic is likely.
Whether the decision is about privacy, a boost for AdWords PPC or other reasons, organic keyword usage is going to change. Again. I believe we might see:
- A sea change in the quality of content to serve users and not serve as placeholders for SEO
- Greater emphasis on algorithm factors beyond content: User-generated reviews, social media influence, quality of links
- Increased emphasis on new content; the one-and-done approach has been over for a long while friends. This is the nail in the coffin.
Google has always been forthright in their determination to deliver the best and most useful content to searchers. For too long, website owners and content marketers have seen ranking for keywords as a means of determining who has the best content. If you can’t track your keywords, are you going to care about them? Are you going to throw more keywords into your content in the hopes one will drive traffic? Will you just ignore them altogether and simply write for your target audience?
Eliminating keywords as a tool for ranking has been coming for a long time. (Remember when meta keywords were important?) Now, more than ever, high-quality content that delivers value and substance is critical if you intend to succeed in the digital world.