(Not Provided) + Hummingbird = An Entirely New SEO Animal

One thing’s for certain: Google has a way of making the lives of SEOs more interesting.

Deeming their 15 year anniversary week a way to wreak havoc, Google rolled out two paradigm shattering changes to SEO analytics results. Beginning with entirely secure, aka (not provided), search results in Analytics on September 23. 

The 15-year anniversary is supposed to bring the gift of something crystal. Instead, on the quindecennial mark of Google’s inception, we’re given something that adds to the love/hate relationship in our digital relationship.

Actually, it had been released on a smaller scale months before. But now that the dust has settled, what are the main takeaways? What does this ultimately mean for those who make our livelihood working in the online marketing realm?

Here are the main takeaways:

1) (Not provided) doesn’t mean not worth it. Yes, “frustrating” is a word for seeing nothing but a bunch of (not provided) listings in Analytics. “I want to rip my hair out, and throw my computer against the wall” are 14 words for the same sentiment. But we’ll go with being concise. Fear not: there’s a work around for the SEO-savvy to get an educated idea of the hidden organic search data.

2) Content can’t be left in a corner. You know how you’ll sometimes bring a friend to a party where they don’t know anyone and they keep drinking and drinking their liquid courage, only to end up making a fool of themselves, and ostensibly, you? What should’ve been a great night out ends up with a broken vase and a slice of pizza being chucked at a wedding limo.

That hasn’t happened to you? Well, that’s not the point.

The point is you can’t introduce content and expect it to perform well by itself. It needs to be part of a wider, sharable net. You shouldn’t have to go to influencers to share your content. Influencers should be coming to you to share with their cohorts.

3) There will be a price to pay. Can we get real for a moment? Good. While Google will frame this as them working to keep your search data more private and secure (hello, NSA), and trying to make the end-user experience more positive, the nitty gritty is that those who don’t adapt — and quickly — will see their rankings plummet.

If you aren’t visible on the first page in SERPs, you or your clients might need to switch tactics entirely to a PPC orientation. Lost rankings = good news for Google shareholders. End moment.

That last point sounded more gloomy and defeatist than I intended. But fear not! SEOers who have been following along should actually see an increase in their rankings by providing searchers with rich, informative, shareable content. If nothing else, this is the time to finally put together that editorial calendar you’ve been putting off for months now.

What about you? What have your experiences with the recent updates been? What are you doing to evolve your online strategy? Drop us a line to let us know.