On the Demise of SEO: Is Google Removing Keywords to Push Paid Traffic?

Encrypted search on the rise

In 2011, when encrypted search was made default for logged in users there was a great concern over repercussions in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), as encrypted searches obliterate keywords. While the source of traffic is still “Google”, keywords are “not provided” into any conversion analysis. This change is dramatic in terms of hard data. But at least the SEO community could get comfort from the prediction that it would only affect a very small percentage of overall searches.

However, encrypted search has been on the fast track. We are now seeing websites with over 20% of their Google visits coming from “(not provided)” keywords. This trend is recent and worrisome. Some websites that had only a few percentage points in June 2012 are now at over 20%!

This trend will only worsen, as Chrome has added search encryption to its omnibox following Firefox and Mobile Safari. With encrypted search no longer being exclusive to logged in users, the amount of encrypted searches is set to increase and the ability to track the results of organic search queries to decrease.

If a conversion analysis down to the keyword doesn’t take into account those that are using encrypted protocols, the SEO analysis will become skewed towards only those that don’t use encrypted search. This seriously cripples the ability to predict online behaviors and the SEO solutions that present the best results.

The rise of encrypted search makes it difficult to make accurate and trustworthy SEO predictions and assessments as it is only being applied to a limited percentage of overall searches. But why would Google take away from SEO? And how will this change SEO strategies, and the results one can get from them?

The paid search alternative

Back in 2011 there were already some taking note of how encrypted search had been high enough for them to take notice, but it nonetheless soon fell out of notice with justifications that encrypted searches would be proportional to regular searches. But these assumptions missed the essential point that SEO can’t be justified as accurate if its methodology is only being applied to a limited percentage of the overall searches. And no one predicted the recent growth in encrypted search.

One possible alternative to get keyword reports is paid search. Curiously, Google will send the complete keyword information, which includes the query of the user, to the advertiser whenever a user clicks on an ad on the Google search engine, whether using encrypted search or not. But this comes at a cost.

If you don’t want to have to first run ads in order to figure out which keywords have the best ROIs, you’ll have trouble using the Analytics reports to look for keywords to optimize for. There are ways to get more information on, for instance, long-tail keywords to optimize for. These, nonetheless, make you rely on other Google tools, like Google’s Keyword Tool, or paid services even more.

In the new necessity of substituting previously available data by acquiring Google tools and running AdWord campaigns, might lay the Google’s strategy behind this move.

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About RezNext

RezNext is the world’s only true Real-Time Distribution Management Solution provider. It empowers hotels to adopt a distribution strategy that simplifies the complex global distribution environment and makes it understandable and manageable. It is integrated with revenue management, operating intelligence and powered with reputation management insights. RezNext’s portfolio of offerings include Rate & Channel Manager, Revenue Management, Online Reputation Management, Website Designing and Web Booking Engine, Mobile solutions, Central Reservation System, Business Intelligence, Property Management System (PMS) two-way connect, GDS and OTA Interface and Loyalty & Feedback Management. Our growing range of solutions can be access by hospitality properties across market segment and size, such as independent hotels, chain hotels, business hotels, resorts, clubs, service and limited service apartments, spas, restaurants and others.
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