Google has changed its rules again, keeping marketers on our toes. Last week, the search engine company moved everyone querying it’s content to a secure search. This means that when a user goes to Google to search, they are automatically redirected to the https:// version of a domain.

google keyword encryption

Why should content marketers care?

With a switch to secure (encrypted) searching, no more keyword data will be passed to site owners. Previously, if someone used Google to search for information, the keywords entered into the search field could be tracked by marketers, helping them monitor which keywords drove traffic to a website. The only time marketers couldn’t monitor this data was when a user was signed into a Google account while performing a search. Now, all keyword data is tucked behind secure walls for only Google’s advertisers to see.

Before the switch, keyword insights were used to determine which phrases were the most important and converted the best. Content could be optimized appropriately to provide the best user experience based on keyword drivers. Without these insights, marketers will have a tougher time choosing the best keywords to target to improve search results, and a tougher time adapting content to continually improve the value of a website.

Because Google is now only sharing keyword search terms with its advertisers, traffic coming from organic searches will be lumped under the “not provided” category when viewing search reports. As you can see from our results below, more and more searches will fall under Unknown, making it impossible to see how people are finding your site.

google unknown keywords

The data will no longer show the initial search query that brought a visitor to your site. This means important information about people’s interests and habits is no longer readily available. This means marketers must reconsider how they attract potential customers to their websites.

What’s a Marketer to Do?

As content marketers, we love looking at measurable data to help create better experiences for our visitors. Google’s decision to withhold keyword data definitely makes our jobs as content marketers a little bit harder. But as marketers, we also have to adapt to changes and make the most of available tools. There is still a wealth of information to help a marketer understand what’s driving traffic to a website.

  1. Look at other search engines like Bing and Yahoo. While Google does have about 67% of the search market share, you can still review keywords for the 33% of searches coming from these other engines to choose the most useful options.
  2. Focus on business results like generating leads, increasing conversions and speaking humanly and authentically rather than honing in on SEO optimization.
  3. Track the SEO performance of your page URL’s rather than keywords. You can watch which pages of your site are performing best and create new content around those topics.

The good news from a content marketing perspective is that developing content to meet a strict data requirement is minimized and brands can put more focus on providing valuable content intended for their target market.

What have you heard about Google’s new keyword encryption? Do you think it will affect your content marketing plan?