The days of receiving highly valuable organic search keyword data from Google are over. Google announced this month that they will be encrypting search activity, allowing sites to see only that someone came from Google but not what keywords they used. With organic search accounting for up to 50% of site traffic, and Google accounting for 60% of the search market, the announcement has online businesses scrambling to find new ways to preserve traffic, intelligence and share of voice.
To merchandising teams, SEO and natural search analysis are intelligence goldmines. Aside from driving traffic, natural search is one of the most powerful tools to understand how the market thinks about a brand and its products. As demand, customer opinions and tastes fluctuate, the quick feedback loops provided through search can alert retailers when a change is needed or be an indicator of how well they’ve responded.
This change is particularly unfortunate given the impact Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm, most notably the support for more “conversational search,” could have had on the intelligence derived from organic search traffic. These changes, which allow Google to focus on intent vs. individual words, is a big step toward the natural search experiences users crave, however, the insight gained from their queries will no longer be accessible by the sites that Google links to.
So what are retailers to do?
Find new ways to engage shoppers on your site. Google is getting more naturally engaging, and so can your site. A recent Infosys survey finds 78% of consumers agree they are more likely to purchase from a retailer again if that retailer provided personalized offers, but fewer than half, 45%, say they are willing to share their personal shopping data to receive these offers. You’ve got to create new ways to provide a more “conversational” experience on your site. Google’s Hummingbird is setting a new precedence for engagement and discovery, now retailers need to find ways to keep up the pace
Up your intelligence game. Regardless of how someone gets to your site, there’s plenty of opportunity to understand why they’re there. The wealth of new merchandising criteria that can be uncovered through on-site interactions is limitless. But, your site must be flexible enough to allow consumers to personalize their experience and explicitly communicate their product preferences.
Best of all, the data and intelligence elicited on your site belongs to you!