After nineteen panda and five penguin updates, Google has changed the game of SEO, making marketing automation the most important tool of marketers today.
It's October of 2013 and marketers can no longer count on Google telling them which keywords people are using to find their online content. But rather than making content less valuable, it increases the need to track user behavior.
The Downward Spiral of SEO
February 24, 2011 – the first Panda update hit Google search results. The goal of this and the following Panda updates was to fight low-quality content.
Seven months later in October, citing user privacy concerns, Google implemented secure, or SSL connections, for everyone logging in to any of their products. At the same time if, while logged in, you went to Google.com, performed a search, and made it to a website, Google wouldn't show the website owner the keywords you used to get there. Instead, they'd see a (not provided) keyword in Google Analytics.
Google provided a way around this. If you were paying for Google AdWords, they'd show you how many people landed on your website for the keywords you were bidding on. Keywords became a pay-to-play game.
This was the opening salvo in numerous updates that Google put into place in order to combat web spam. Specifically, Google was fighting back against online marketers that had been taking advantage of SEO practices that had been around for years.
Double-Digit Growth Of (not provided)
Fast forward to 2013 and website owners have seen the (not provided) keyword grow by double digits. This has certainly been true with the clients I worked for when I had my marketing firm.
Below is a chart showing the percent change by month for the (not provided) keyword between September of 2011 and September 2013. To keep the chart readable, I removed the 2,168% increase in November 2011.
As you can see from the chart, while there are some peaks and valleys over the months, overall the trend is up.
This Is A Big Problem
The growth chart above doesn't show the scope of this issue. To help shed light on the problem, we need to look at the (not provided) keyword as a percentage of organic traffic.
Over the past two years, the (not provided) keyword has jumped to being 70% of all organic traffic!
To put this in context, here are two averages for the website:
- 32,000 visits per month
- 34% of all traffic is organic search traffic, or an average of 10,880 visits
With up to 70% of that traffic coming in via the (not provided) keyword, this website owner doesn't know the keywords that 7,616 people used to get to the website.
That's 1 out of every 4 visitors.
Capturing The Missing 25%
When you don't know how one out of every four visitors to your website got there, it's time to look at alternatives. The best alternative now is marketing automation.
Solutions from Infusionsoft, Marketo and HubSpot allow you to track the behavior of visitors to your site. Once a visitor opts-in, you can see everything that person has done on your site, and lead them down a path to becoming a customer.
Applications like Infusionsoft and Marketo have powerful tagging capabilities. If I request a white paper, my contact record gets a tag. If I fill out another form, I get another tag. If I make a purchase, I get another tag. As a marketer, I can then determine when the best time to provide a conversion call to action is.
Your Number One Goal
After putting a marketing automation solution in place, your number one goal is to get opt-ins. From there, you can nurture your leads and through testing, determine the best time to either have a sales person call that prospect on the phone, or send them an email with a purchase action.
This means you need content – content that speaks to the needs of your target market. That content needs to be made available both on your company blog, as well as on landing pages.
With a marketing automation solution in place, you might not know what keywords a visitor used to get to your site, but you will know what got them to opt-in, and what leads them to becoming a paying customer.