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The Thrive Hive

Tips on digital marketing you can apply today.

Adapting to Keyword Data Not Provided

Scott Thomas - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Google has begun a major shift to encrypting all non-paid (organic) search activity, while continuing to provide keyword data for ad clicks. Within Google Analytics (or other Analytics platforms), this query data was lumped into the (not provided) segment. Anyone involved with online marketing or tracking their website performance with Analytics is likely well aware that this segment of "not provided" keyword data has been growing. Google has confirmed that it has begun shifting all searches to encrypted search, and many marketers have noticed a huge spike of (not provided) this month (Sept. 2013). 

A Brief History of Not Provided

Since October of 2011, Google began encrypting search queries for people who were logged into their Google Account. Initially, Google stated that the percentage of keyword data lost to marketers would be in the single digits. Over time, more searches were encrypted, including search boxes & from the Address/URL bar of the Chrome, Apple's Safari browser in iOS6 and Firefox browsers. Marketers began to track the percentage of not provided and finding ways to adapt to the situation.

The Shift from Tracking Keywords to Landing Page Performance

Given the increasing percentage of not provided keyword data since 2011, the quality of the remaining keyword data from Google organic search has been questionable at best over the last year or so. Instead of evaluating your site's Google organic traffic via the associated keyword data, it's time to shift your tracking to a landing page metric. Based upon the landing pages of your site's visits from Google organic traffic, one can infer the type of keyword phrases that were likely used to find each landing page. 

Other Options for Adapting to Not Provided

Fortunately, Bing still passes on the keyword data for organic search visits. Bing also provides a very high quality set of Webmaster Tools, complete with keyword research tools and SEO recommendations. Unfortunately, due to their small market share, gleaning data for small niche markets can be difficult. 

Since keyword data is still passed onto advertisers, one can use Google AdWords to acquire paid keyword data through CPC advertising. One can measure impression and click through data for a variety of branded and non-branded keywords, and track a site's progress over time.

Google Webmaster Tools provides data on the search queries, impressions, average position, and click data for your website. Currently, Google provides 90 days worth of data, but plans to provide up to one year of historical data in the near future. 

Time to Think Beyond the Keywords

In many ways, Google is pushing online marketers and website owners to think beyond the keyword and trying to rank well. If you are not already, it's time to focus on what really matters: the entire experience of your users. Can they find what they are looking for on your website? Are you providing unique, remarkable content to hold their attention? Will they keep your business in mind when they consider all their options? 

While I don't buy Google's arguments of protecting users' privacy by withholding organic keyword data while providing keyword data for paid ads, that's the world we live in now. 




+1 Your Favorite Google Search Results

Lisa Gill - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

About a year has passed since Facebook “Like” button started appearing all over the web. Now Google is rivaling it with the +1 button – the latest feature of Google’s Social Search. +1 was released about a month ago for a small percentage of U.S. search users, but a wide release is coming soon.

How it works. The +1 button will appear next to all Google search results. You can click on the button to recommend the site. Google will display the aggregate +1’s a website has received as part of the search listing, and also show +1 recommendations from your friends and contacts. You just need a Google profile to participate.

Social Search has already personalized the Google experience in that results can vary from person to person and include content created or shared by people in your social network (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). +1 will take it a step further by calling out sites recommended by people you know if they are part of your Google Network (Google Talk friends, Gmail contacts, anyone you are following in Google Reader and Google Buzz).

It’s still too early to tell how this will catch on, but here are a few important things marketers should know about +1:

  • Although your personalized results may vary, it is not clear that +1 recommendations will impact rankings in general. That said, anything that increases click-through rate (CTR) seems like a prime candidate in this regard.
  • The +1 button will also appear next to Google PPC ads. Advertisers will not be charged for clicks on the +1 button, but stats will be available so you know which ads are getting the most +1s.
  • The Google +1 button will also be available to all sites, making it easy for your visitors to +1 your web pages.

To participate in the experiment and see the +1 button in action, go to http://www.google.com/experimental/index.html



Google Algorithm Update - Local Info & Review Integration

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, November 04, 2010
Google rolled out a new algorithm this past week.  Local results and organic results are now blended together. 

Here's an example of a search for "lodge fairbanks, ak"  As you can see Pikes Waterfront Lodge comes up first - it looks like a local business listing with the corresponding pin/map  and place page link on the right. 

However the title tag is used not the business name listed in the local business listing (Google Places).  There is also the addition of review site info included right there with the listing.



Three phone calls have come in to our office from Google in the past few weeks asking about the Apokrisis Google Places listing. And this is from a company where you can never find a phone number! Obviously, local business information and how it is listed is a big initiative in the search market, and the implication for mobile is huge.

Have you optimized your local business information? Check out our recent article in our monthly newsletter, The Apokrisis Report with some tips on what to do.

Don't Forget Organic Search When Considering Redesign

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I came across this great article this morning about SEO and Web Redesigns and it made me think about the redesign projects we have been involved with over the past few years. The article is about the importance of communicating with your online marketing team and making sure they are involved in any redesign process.

Why? It seems like you are including more people, which can slow down the project, you might think. But many companies we work with have invested time and resources into developing strong organic search traffic with SEO, and it is so very easy to lose this asset very quickly when a new site goes up without SEO considered.

Some tips for any company considering a site redesign who has good organic search rankings:
  • Ask your design company about any impact on search. If they seem blase about this or else do not give you a list of specific things they are going to do to maintain organic search, then consider this a red flag.
  • If you work with an SEO provider or online marketing firm, be sure to communicate with them early in the process and keep them involved. They will be an invaluable resource to make sure that all aspects of the redesign are search friendly.
  • Consider a redesign an opportunity, not a threat. In most cases we find that, as long as SEO is made a priority, organic search traffic will grow from a redesign, not shrink.
We consider the following items the minimum required actions during a redesign to maintain organic search traffic:
  • Will you have new pages names? Make sure search-friendly redirects are made from the old URLs to the new ones. Not only is it possible that people may have bookmarked those old URLs, but they will also be listed in search engines for a while. Without doing this, your listings in search engines will point to an error page.
  • Have you invested time or money in solid meta tag writing? Make sure those meta tags are ported over into the new pages by the design team. if you have a database-driven site, this can be done in a bulk action very quickly by your design team instead of manually.
  • In your new structure, are there areas of the site you do not want to have crawled? Be sure to update your robots.txt file.
  • Are you completely rewriting your content or carrying a lot of it over? make sure you review and make any updates if your target keywords have changed.
Taking these simple steps will ensure success in maintaining your search traffic with your new site. This is not only a good thing from a traffic standpoint, but from a business standpoint - it ensures that the previous investments you have made for good search exposure are maintained.

Not doing so would be like throwing money away.