If you're a franchise marketer, you know that Google has been making silent changes aimed at encrypting all organic search queries....except for advertising of course.
Some people have said it's Google trying to keep the NSA from spying on us all but most have said it's to increase the usage of their cash cow, Adwords.
About 2 years ago, Google started encrypting searches for anyone that was logged into Google while they were searching.
Google's reason was privacy.
- Google wanted to block anyone who might actually be listening in on a string of searches.
- Google also wanted to block publishers from seeing searches as some of them may have been too "private" to expose.
"We added SSL encryption for our signed-in search users in 2011, as well as searches from the Chrome omnibox earlier this year. We're now working to bring this extra protection to more users who are not signed in."
Over the past two years there's been a steady movement up and to the right for the keywords that are "not provided" until recently a huge spike happened. See the chart below courtesy of a site called www.notprovidedcount.com
So what does all this mean to the franchisee or franchisor? Here are 4 takeaways.
1. Focus on Better Content
Even though secure searches seem aggravating to many people that do SEO, I think it's a move in the right direction. This is really pushing the industry to focus on producing awesome content and meaningful social connections that truly transcend the keyword focused mentality. Instead of pumping out 100′s of SEO driven blog posts that have ZERO value for the people reading them, how about you focus on your personas for once and answer some of their toughest questions.
2. Focus on Business Results
Franchise marketers should really be focusing on actual business objectives like local sales or obtaining new franchisees. The disappearing keyword data is forcing us, in a good way, to take a look at business results which is ultimately where we should be in the first place.
3. Double Down on Paid Search or PPC
The "issue" at hand only affects free, organic traffic. If your franchise uses Google Adwords, you're sitting on a gold mine of data. I recommend linking your Adwords account to your Google Analytics account and use that data for future projects.
4. Measure Your Referral Traffic
If you're seeing some of your website pages getting more traffic than others (referral traffic from Google), you should be aware of the type of content that's on that page. It could well be that those are the actual keywords that your prospects are looking for.
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