The move away from cookie-based tracking is a response to increasing public concerns about privacy.
This review follows on from data breaches and scandals that have plagued Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and other Silicon Valley giants in recent years.
There has been a lot of discussion about how search engine marketers and PPC professionals can prepare for a cook-free web.
However, one important question remains: How will the conversion of cookies affect search engine optimization? In this post we will examine this change through the following lenses:
- Personalization in the SERPs.
- The importance of first party data.
- The role of the Google Search Console.
- Information vs. transaction content.
Let’s start with what a cookie is and why brands use them in the first place.
What is a cookie?
A cookie is a small text file that is stored on your device when you visit a website. It stores information about your preferences and other data.
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From a consumer perspective, cookies help websites work more efficiently. They remember passwords and save the items that we put in our shopping cart.
On the brand side, they help us understand how visitors use different parts of a website so that we can improve the experience for future visitors.
Cookies also help advertisers to follow consumers on the Internet – sometimes much longer and wider than these consumers believe.
These are the “bad” cookies that have caused public concern.
This legislation is also intended to give consumers more control over how brands use their data to create a more seamless user experience, to sell to third parties, or for their own marketing / remarketing purposes.
Cookies can not only keep items in your shopping cart, they can also contain helpful information such as how to keep your login details for future visits, personalized discount codes (like in e-mails about leaving the shopping cart!) Or recommended user interface contents.
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For example, “Items you may be interested in …” and “Products you may be interested in …” are all generated by cookies.
In a logic that is really confusing, cookies are also used to record what types of cookies (if any) a user has chosen to allow their browser to be set.
Whether cookies are good or bad depends on how each brand uses them.
When a website sets a cookie, it follows you around the internet and displays content from websites that you have visited in the past.
For example, if I look for shoes and go to Zappos and don’t buy anything, a cookie is placed so that I can get ads from Zappos if I keep browsing.
This could make a helpful reminder to come back to buy a pair I like – or it could be an annoying interruption.
Personalization in the SERPs
Google has a lot of end-user data and uses personalization for organic search results. It shows your last query, where you are and much more – but only if you accept cookies.
Personalization and a good user experience (UX) are two ways to build trust with customers and encourage them to choose cookies.
When users do this, it is the company’s responsibility to deliver world-class UX (continuous innovation!) And maintain trust by only using data in a way that the consumer has approved.
It’s Google’s old motto: “Don’t be angry”, but this time we’re serious!
If a user rejects cookies, the search becomes depersonalized. Websites that target broad, less specific queries usually benefit, but websites that depend on more specific queries may have difficulty reaching users.
Because of this, it will be even more important for the latter sites to optimize their pages in order to stay competitive on SERPs.
The importance of first party data
A big change in the future without cookies is that brands will instead need to access first party data or data they collect through their websites, apps or other services. (Data from third-party providers, on the other hand, are collected by an external provider for advertising purposes.)
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Unfortunately for businesses, there are many challenges in collecting quality data from first-party providers.
One way is to capture accurate customer actions on a website to create a comprehensive profile of customers.
Solutions like real-time personalization can help capture more relevant information about specific customers through their use on the website.
And of course, once you know who they are, you can create the content they need based on their intent and your first-party data.
The role of the Google Search Console
Using the Google Search Console becomes more important even in a world without cookies.
With the help of the Google Search Console, you can get insights into how Google understands your website and get important information like clicks, impressions, average placements, click-through-rates etc.
That way, you can connect the dots so you can see what content users are interacting with and which keywords are performing best on “User Intent”.
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Information v. Transaction content
Another change that we will see in this world without cookies is the even greater emphasis on embedding content that piques user interest at every stage.
The good news is that this is an approval-based way to get consumers interested in your products and services.
Marketing is about building relationships. The most beautiful and meaningful way to build a relationship is with relevant content that is helpful, useful, engaging, and informative.
Once you understand the consumer’s intent, you will have the data and guidance you need to use content to attract the right audience.
Focus on that intention The number of search terms can lead to better click rates, conversions, etc. as you give users what they want, when they want it, and meet their information needs.
For example, let’s say I wrote a gated whitepaper, the ultimate guide to creating an SEO audit. Approximately 100 people fill out the form to download it.
But then our new business team calls and discovers that there were only two real leads. What was the problem here?
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The problem is, this article was mostly about teaching SEO professionals how to do an audit. This is informational content or content that provides education or entertainment.
It wasn’t about transactional content, but rather how a brand’s products and services can help readers while boosting sales and brand benefits. Examples of transaction content can be white papers and:
- Case studies.
- Partner success stories.
- Sponsored events.
- Product demonstrations.
- Product brochures.
Instead, if I wrote an article like “Why Brands Should Invest in an SEO Audit to Improve Their ROI by 50%”, it would likely have better results since the intent is transactional. It appeals to brands or business people looking for SEO services.
Once you’ve read the White Paper, you might say, “That’s what I have to do. But I need help so I will be reaching out to this company to find out more about their audit services. “
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This is just one example of why we need to define the intent before creating any content.
Bonus: structured data
Once you’ve properly understood the intent and ranked some of your content, it’s time to decorate it with structured data.
Structured data can help your website display rich results, get more clicks and impressions, while increasing sales and revenue at the same time.
Measuring in a cook-free world will also be extremely important.
We need to track offline purchases, associate those purchases with an online experience, and display the value (i.e. what role organic search played in the purchase).
This means that you track users who have consumed content and then look for them at the conversion point to find out if they went to an online store after reading your content.
Work with your analytics team to make sure you’re tracking, measuring, and mapping content appropriately to maximize conversions.
There is an increase in brands that provide analytics and other tools on the server side.
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Server-side analytics are generally a more reliable way to measure web engagement and performance. Harder … much harder … but also more reliable and safer.
At the same time, users should be made aware of how they will be tracked.
Tech companies are also rolling out tools that will allow brands in the future to navigate without cookies and protect consumer privacy.
For example, Microsoft announced Parakeet for privacy controls. Meanwhile, the Bing API has a private search feature based on keeping consumer data private and addressing many of advertisers’ concerns about data.
That list also includes the Google Chrome and Apple IDFA privacy sandboxes.
As search engines move away from third-party cookies, it becomes more difficult to follow a customer across digital experiences to get a full picture of their needs, behaviors, and intentions.
But I think content is the new cookie, and measuring it helps brands better understand what users are looking for.
In turn, using content and measurements, brands can connect the dots across all stages of the fragmented user journey, delivering a better user and content experience while maximizing ROI.
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Notice: Cookies were always faulty. We’ve been in a multi-device, omnichannel world for some time, and metering solutions haven’t fully caught up with most brands.
However, this is not the end of the online marketing industry.
Cookies are just the end of the marketing industry that works mysteriously behind the scenes. Brands that continue to prioritize the consumer will continue to thrive.