I’ve read a few blogs recently that challenge the importance of keyword strategy, some even arguing that this sort of strategy is now obsolete in the world of search engine marketing.
Whilst practices such as keyword stuffing are inarguably out of date, black hat and generally a big no-no, keyword data is still of huge value to online strategy. Knowing what attracts your customers to you site, however you have built that strategy, be it through links or content, is crucial information when developing a search strategy.
That’s what makes the latest announcement from Bing even more frustrating. The search engine has announced that it is to encrypt its search data, meaning web traffic reports will no longer show all keyword data entered by users. They’ve been allowing users to encrypt their data for the last 18 months or so, but in the summer this is set to become default.
As a search marketer, one of the aspects of Google’s analytics I find most frustrating is the (not provided) row that appears every time I access a traffic report. How am I expected to know what’s making my customers tick if you hide the data? Yes there are other ways of getting to the bottom of this by exploring other reports in analytics, and we need plenty of additional data to determine what our users are doing once they’re onsite, but nevertheless it’s all making the process longer.
Bing has already got an uphill struggle competing against the behemoth that is Google, but this was one of the features that set them apart.
Much the same as Google, the official line from Bing’s Senior Project Manager, Duane Forrester is that this latest move will serve to protect user privacy. There is always going to be a question mark around whether this is actually the case, or whether search engines are now trying to push brands towards paid search instead. Sure enough, the first suggestion from Bing on accessing user data after the roll out is to access the Search Terms Query Report. This is found in the Bing Ads UI which will show keywords that, yep you guessed it, triggered your paid for ads.
Some might ask we care about this? After all Bing drives little web traffic in comparison to Google, even to sites who rank well there. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, in the announcement blog it is apparent that Bing cares more about its users than webmasters, but I do find it strange they have gotten rid of one of their plus points.
It will be interesting to see if this works in Bing’s favour in any way, or whether it pushes them further behind Google.