Encrypted Search: How Search Marketers Need To Rethink Metrics

Secure or encrypted search queries may leave some marketers in the dark if they don't change the metrics and methods used to follow clicks and conversions. It will distort attribution, wreak havoc on budgets, and reset search marketing back to the beginning on rankings and algorithms. Rethink metrics on each page of the Web site, rather than the complete site.

The loss of search query referring keyword data should put the industry into a long-tail spin. I continually hear the same complaint from those with extensive histories in search marketing who grew up in an industry dependent on keyword data. Folks, grow up and change with technology.  

Marketers that continue to focus on search engine rank-checking tools will see their search engine optimization performance decline rapidly, so it's imperative to find other methods in order to adapt. Don't rely solely on the keyword to provide answers. Look for signals from content and social interactions on the page and the site that provide insight into what converts consumers.

Jim Yu, BrightEdge founder, said marketers must understand the differences between how Yahoo, Bing and Google pass along data. Unlike Google's change to secure search by default, but users still see traffic originating from the search engine, Yahoo's change is slightly different and could lead marketers to believe the engine went dark. On the other hand, Bing -- which has about 18.2% market share in the U.S., per comScore -- made secure search optional earlier this month. Bing powered 27.1% of searches in December 2013.

The technical aspects of SEO continue to evolve, but the goal of search marketers to rank high in query results has not changed. Yu said BrightEdge created a "Secure Search Manifesto" focused on Google's secure searches, but it's relevant to secure search changes from Yahoo and Bing. It's based on BrightEdge's technology investments and secured by analytics and metrics. What's most interesting, and I always keep this in the back of my mind when referring to BrightEdge: Some of these guys came from salesforce.com

The white paper describes a three-step process that will optimize sites and pages in a world where engines use encrypted search. Data sources and technology platforms become the enablers. First, optimize pages to provide a baseline for performance. Map demand to the pages through keywords, and then pair the keywords to the pages. The white paper elaborates on each step. And of course it highlights the use of BrightEdge for the platform, but the focus is actually on a platform that can dissect the data from the pages on the site to provide accurate metrics.

The biggest difference, explains the report, is that marketers must think of ranking at the page level and not the complete site.

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2 comments about "Encrypted Search: How Search Marketers Need To Rethink Metrics".
  1. Tom Pick from KC Associates , January 27, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
    While this is all true, it's only part of the story. Marketers need to look beyond their own website pages to other points of presence for their brands across the web. Product reviews, social media mentions, YouTube videos, industry news articles, and other brand mentions all have value even though that content doesn't reside on the corporate website. It's vital for marketers to measure their total web presence - and benchmark it against competitors. There's a white paper here on web presence optimization (WPO) metrics for anyone interested: http://wpoinc.com/wpo-metrics-whitepaper/
  2. Gary Milner from Lenovo , January 28, 2014 at 3:51 p.m.
    interesting point on web presence, i wholeheartedly agree, fundamentally if traffic aint going to you retailer pages , reviews AND your own then you wont be a big player. Your own web site is a small part of the journey