The digital marketing industry is still up in arms about Google’s move to encrypt all searches, thereby depriving SEOs of critical keyword data.

file000313453827The Pollyanna take on this is that Google is fiercely protective its users’ privacy in the wake of the NSA scandal. The rational cynic’s take is that Google is trying to shove more and more search marketers towards AdWords, which will continue to reward pay-to-play clicks with transparent keyword data. The right take? Probably both.

(Let’s just be clear, first of all, that it was easy to see this one coming. Just like the corporations responsible for the whole sub-prime debacle where money became more important than reason, Google is, after all, a public company. As a public company, they are responsible to shareholders to grow revenue. And I do think this is a good example of how they plan to push everyone to use AdWords.)

With all of that said, there are still far too many available avenues for deeper insight for SEOs to simply throw up their hands. There will surely be some great solutions popping up in the marketplace to help extract keyword insights from searches. In the meantime, platforms like Bing still offer keyword data, which – while not a perfectly clean translation – should help marketers shape their Google strategy. And Google has provided Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, each of which offer workarounds to recoup much of the keyword data we’re used to having available.

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What’s this? It may be a solution for the keyword data Google just took away.

What I haven’t heard much talk about, for instance, is the query data provided by Google in the Webmasters Tools interface (see image at top of story). This feature tells the site owner what search queries the site has shown up for and provides the estimated number of clicks. This is Google’s attempt to provide keyword data similar to rank scraper, which can inform the site owners about where their pages are ranking.

The best part of this development might be the reinforced requirement that marketers focus on delivering and promoting great content. Since Google has been banging the drum on quality content for many months now, it makes sense that SEOs take the encryption move as a loud hint to focus on content with less emphasis on keywords and more emphasis on quality.

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Kent Yunk
Kent Yunk, a longtime practitioner of SEO and an established leader in the field, is leading search engine optimization initiatives for new and existing clients across a wide spectrum of industries. Kent began his SEO experience at IBM as Senior Web Strategist in the Information Management organization. This position led him to Global Strategies (a division of Ogilvy & Mathers), where he became a Global Search Strategist with client engagements that included Adobe Systems, Seagate Services, Cisco and Intel. At Ask.com, Kent used his search optimization experience to build new Q&A focused content sites. At QuinStreet, he directed SEO efforts for more than 40 financial services websites. Most recently, Kent led SEO consulting engagements at Roaring Pajamas, a digital marketing agency.