Guest post by Joy Kennelly
Google is once again changing the game for webmasters hoping to tailor their search engine optimization efforts. On September 23, Google made all searches secure, encrypting data that webmasters previously used to track organic search data.
Google first introduced this extra layer of user security in 2011, when Google Webspam team leader Matt Cutts declared that "(not provided)," the term that appears in lieu of protected keywords, would only ever make a up single-digit percentage of analytics. But that’s not how it ended up. By August 2013, "(not provided)" accounted for more than half of search data for some industries, according to Searchenginewatch.com. Now, save for a few tricks, webmasters will have little to no organic search data to work with. Without organic search data to optimize their content, brands will have to rely on high-quality material to drive traffic.
But businesses who don’t have the resources to produce quality content are in luck. The struggling print journalism industry is ripe with talented multimedia journalists who know how to learn and communicate ideas. "(Not provided)" could trigger an online revolution that revives an industry and improves the lives of readers. Keep organic traffic coming your way with these tips.
Without organic search data to shape campaigns, businesses will have to rely on shareable content to reach potential partners. That doesn’t mean completely abandoning basic SEO tactics — keywords in headlines, internal links, metadata, etc. — but it does mean exact-match anchor text is no longer the key to SEO results. Quality content sprawls out across social networks, which Google values more and more as it invests in Google+. Social content can deliver warm leads on its own. When users stumble across great content that their networks post on Twitter, they’ll make their way to your website. No SEO is necessary — just good old-fashioned marketing. Forward-thinking companies are already reaping the benefits of strong social circles. Observe digital agency iAcquire marketing on Google Plus and you’ll find links to quality information both internal and external.
Non-Google Traffic Data
Google isn’t the only player in the search market. Bing, Yahoo and other search engines still provide some organic search data that can give you an idea of what keywords are driving traffic to your site. The Bing Keyword Research tool tracks up to six months of data and offer organic results. To sweeten the deal, Bing is even offering a $50 advertising credit for webmasters who sign up. Google is still king, so that data might not all be applicable, but it can at least tide you over as you mold your new content marketing strategy.
Google Webmaster Tools
Google may no longer provide keyword data, but that doesn’t mean it is totally cutting off webmasters. Google Webmaster Tools display the errors Google finds when it crawls your site and offers advice on how to solve the problems. Google will also tell you how often each new page appears in search results. As you continue to produce content and market your brand, Webmaster Tools will give you a high-level view of your progress. Simply add your site to Google Webmaster Tools to get started analyzing your online presence.
An Updated Website
Keyword targeting can only take you so far. Google has placed a greater emphasis on manual reviews, which means your website’s design, navigation and overall stability can impact its search rankings. Beyond that, a strong website will have a greater effect on visitors. What’s the point of driving traffic to your website if no one wants to stay? Start by double-checking the basics. A title tag is the short phrase that describes your website. It’s also one of the single most important optimization elements. If you don’t include your website’s most relevant keywords in the title tag, you’re missing out. Meta tags are the next most important coding solution. Although meta tags doesn’t carry as much weight as title tags, they’re still an easy way to boost your SEO. A meta tag usually include a description, the keywords and the author.
These technical elements will drive traffic to your site, but only quality design and content will keep visitors coming back. If you’re web design is more than two years old, it’s probably time for a facelift. Consider a photo-driven approach to design, particularly if your website deals with visually appealing material. As always don’t sacrifice function for design. Modern visitors won’t put up with sites that have bad navigation.
Joy Kennelly is an Award-Winning Social Media Strategist, Event Planner, Copywriter, Personal Publicist and Founder of The Joy Writer, Goal Gals LA, and now Joy’s Travel Adventures.