The Impact of “Not Provided” Keyword Data on SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource’s weThink blog: “Empty Analytics: How “Not Provided” Keyword Data Affects SEO.”

metricsSearch engine optimization is based on content relevance and authority—how closely does the content match the search query’s context and intent, and how many other sites across the Internet consider it to be valuable enough to link to? The growing “not provided” bucket of organic search keyword referral data in a site’s web analytics reports, therefore, can have a profound impact on our ability to effectively optimize our sites to drive organic search visits and conversions.

The “not provided” issue was originally predicted to impact less than 10% of all Google searches. Today, the impact varies between 20% and 50% of all organic search keyword data.

Among Resource’s clients, sites have lost visibility into between 21% and 39% of their organic search keywords. There’s no detectable pattern based on the site’s size, brand strength, industry or ecommerce ability on Which to predict the size of the keyword data loss. A large ecommerce site faces the same data challenge in this instance as a small consumer brand site.

The problem stems from Google’s secure search. Stating privacy concerns, Google defaults to secure search for every user logged into a Google account. That includes Gmail, Google Calendar, YouTube, and any of the other Google products. When signed into Google, the searcher’s keyword referral string is stripped from the information passed to analytics packages in the referring URL, rendering the keyword data “not provided.”

In addition, most major browsers have defaulted to Google’s secure search. Most recently the problem has been exacerbated by mobile devices using Android 4 and iOS 6, which have also defaulted to using Google’s secure search. With so many of the major software players funneling their search queries through Google’s secure search, you can see how the “not provided” issue has increased in scale from the original prediction.

What does it matter? Can’t we just ignore the “not provided” data? Read on to find out.

Read the article in full at Resource’s weThink blog »


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Using Local Search to Drive Local Sales

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource’s weThink blog: “Converting Online Visitors to Offline Customers.”

Local search is a critical component in the quest to drive online visitors into brick and mortar stores to complete their purchases. Research by comScore has shown that 49% of local searches are conducted without a specific business in mind, and 61% of searchers consider local results to be more relevant than standard search results. In addition, even for major brands with ecommerce capabilities, some customers will want to see and feel and try on products before making a purchase decision. Winning these potential customers’ foot traffic via local search requires a combination of store locator features on your site, search engine optimization and local feed optimization.

Local search results are divided into two areas: localized web search results and local places results. Localized web search results are simply part of the standard 10 blue links on a search results page, with content specific to your location. Local places results are displayed with a map and contain primarily address, phone number and URL information. These two types of search results are blended into the search results page together, but different forms of optimization are required to be included in each.

Inclusion in localized web search results is primarily about local SEO on your own site and the effectiveness of the store locator. Local places search requires a more comprehensive program of off-site optimization including feeds, social media and store locator data. Read the article in full for more on:

  • Store Locators on Your Site
  • SEO for Local Content
  • Off-Site Optimization

Read the article in full at Resource’s weThink blog »


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

The Overlap between SEO & Accessibility

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Better Accessibility, Better SEO.”

Mention web accessibility and digital marketers tend to sigh, flash back to alt attributes on images and envision a small handful of vision-impaired people using screen readers. In reality, accessibility standards benefit nearly 12% of the U.S. population, from people with hearing and vision impairment to people with repetitive motion disorder, developmental disabilities or ADHD. And the growing population of senior citizens online represents another important reason for brands to embrace accessibility standards, with 53% of American adults age 65 and older using the Internet.

As an added benefit, what’s good for accessibility is also typically good for search engine optimization. The accessibility standards that focus on providing textual alternatives and navigational guidelines have the most overlap with SEO because the search engine crawlers that index the Internet for ranking are traditionally bound by similar restrictions as screen readers.

The most obvious example of overlap between accessibility and SEO is the need to provide textual alternatives for non-textual content such as images, audio and video. On the SEO front, alt attributes are not a very powerful keyword relevance signal, but they do have a small benefit. When combined with other SEO best practices, using relevant alt attributes that agree with the keyword signal on the page when it’s possible will give the page an extra boost. Following the following guidelines will enhance both web accessibility and the keyword signals that feed SEO….

Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »


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Using User Language: UGC and SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource’s weThink blog: “Using UGC to Benefit SEO.”

User-generated content (UGC) and search engine optimization (SEO) are a match made in heaven. SEO is done by marketers and can fall prey to same language issues that caused the site to perform poorly in organic search in the first place. But UGC is created by customers and uses the real-world language that other customers and searchers are likely to use.

“Why, is that our new ‘Zip-front Sweatshirt-Black-With Hood?’” asks the marketer.

“No,” replies the puzzled customer. “It’s a “black hoodie.’”

So while the marketer busily optimizes for the product name, the customer logs on to write a review about the great new “hoodie” he just bought.

That review, a free bit of UGC gold, contributes to the keyword theme of the page and begins to send “hoodie” relevance signals. The more customers write reviews, the stronger the signals become.

Read the article in full at Resource’s weThink blog »


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Search Marketing Stays Steady around Yahoo! Axis

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Yahoo! Axis Changes Search Experience, But Not Search Marketing.”

Yahoo! entered the modern search app age recently with its visually engaging new Yahoo! Axis app for iPhone, iPad and the desktop. Instead of the search industry’s tried-and-true page of 10 blue links with some maps and images scattered around, Yahoo! Axis has gone completely visual and removed all traditional links in favor of site thumbnails.

Much like Google’s Instant Search feature, Yahoo! Axis displays changing search results with every letter you add to the search box. As the searcher types “top surfers,” Yahoo! Axis offers a list of potential searches that the user might be working toward, such as “top surfers of all time.” In addition, though, the search results shown change to show different website thumbnails or images and videos shown based on each new character the searcher enters.

Interestingly, Yahoo! Axis is also a fully functioning web browser app on the iPad and iPhone. It has the tabs and bookmark features you’d expect from a browser, a customized homepage, and the power to sync your browsing experience across all three screens. The desktop version is an app that integrates into the browser experience for the four major browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. So the net-net for searchers is that they can start a search on their iPhone, walk into the office and switch to the desktop to continue the same search experience on their PC, and then walk into a meeting with their iPad and keep on searching on the same thread.

But does it change search marketing?

Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »


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Originally posted on Web PieRat.