In the world of internet marketing, it is no exaggeration to say that the only constant is change.  While this of course can apply to any field, most do not have a third party constantly changing their rules of the game without warning or even explanation.  That is not to say that such updates are all bad (who has never gotten sick of spam on the internet, after all), just that those changes can hurt—especially when you are one of the companies that are trying to play by the rules, which are ever-changing and new strategies are developed every day. As business owners strive to keep their business at the forefront when it comes to SEO, new research by USC and NYU show that brand specific keywords are extremely vital to the success of any campaign.

Create the Foundation for a Solid Web Strategy

In the midst of such continual turmoil, it is no wonder that everyone is quite interested in learning just where to turn to in order to get good, reliable tips that will remain true long enough to be the foundation of a solid web strategy.  The most obvious resource for such information is the search engines themselves; since they define success, why not use all of the tools they offer in order to help you succeed?  Except, as any veteran of internet marketing will tell you, the tools the search engines offer are not always that accurate (while there are a number of articles that say as much, here is the most recent I’ve seen).  This is doubly distressing as Google continues to move all of its keyword data to “not provided” (and, presumably, other search engines begin to consider doing likewise), which limits your view of what is actually producing traffic and leaves you only with the consideration of what Google sees as the focus of your site.

However, while this particular Google update was certainly a nuisance (so much so that Rand Fishkin, then CEO of Moz, changed whiteboard Friday to whiteboard Tuesday just to address it), it was by no means the end of useful data as we know it.  As the previously cited “Keywords to Concepts” blog post explains, 15% of each day’s web searches are completely new, even with Google’s massive cataloging efforts.  For this reason, and because there is no use crying over spilled milk, the “not provided” pandemic is less of “the end of internet marketing as we know it” and more of “the beginning of ranking for keywords you never even knew existed.”

Focus on the Big Picture When It Comes to Keywords, Not the Details

While that certainly sounds much more appealing, how exactly does that help you?  Simple; now, instead of getting caught up in the details, you can start focusing on the generalities.  For example, if you were Target and you knew that you were previously doing well at ranking for keywords around the theme of “Dyson vacuums,” you might want to continue using those keywords, even though Google no longer tells you how many visitors come to your website because of those keywords.  However, you would be missing out.

In their academic paper “An Empirical Analysis of Search Engine Advertising:  Sponsored Search in Electronic Markets,” Drs. Anindya Ghose (Professor of Information, Operations, and Management Sciences and Professor of Marketing at NYU – Leonard N. Stern School of Business) and Sha Yang (Professor of Marketing at USC – Marshall School of Business) discovered that the presence of brand-specific information (i.e. “Dyson”) in keywords decreased click-through and conversion rates by 56.6% and 44.2% respectively while the presence of retailer-specific information (i.e. “Target”) increased those rates by 14.72% and 50.6% respectively.

Furthermore, replacing your theme of “Dyson vacuums” with “Target vacuums,” you also achieve two additional benefits.  First, you no longer have to compete with other Dyson resellers or even Dyson itself in either paid search or organic rankings.  Second, you reinforce your brand’s presence online because your paid search no longer touts Dyson, but Target and that can be very beneficial to your organic rankings.

So yes, maybe you were getting good traffic with “Dyson vacuums” before, and maybe they will continue to be your most popular vacuum in the future, but by moving away from “Dyson vacuums” and toward “Target vacuums,” you can not only substantially increase your click-through and conversion rates, but now you can also prove to Google that you are relevant for more than just one particular brand of vacuums.

What do you think:  Will Google’s algorithm changes make or break your SEO?