SEO and first party data strategy to avoid loss of traffic and prepare for changes in 2023.

By Brendan Wolmarans13 July 2022

Many industries, especially the marketing industry, have become aware of the changes that Google intends to make in 2023. In June 2021, Google announced that third party cookie data would be phased out by the end of 2023 and that Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will be replacing Universal Analytics (UA) on June 1st, 2023. Google has also noted that there is a possibility that all currently stored data on Google Universal Analytics, will not be accessible in the months following. These changing comes with implications as third-party Cookie data is primarily used in social media and ad retargeting. It is data that is collected by a site other than the one a user is currently on.

What’s changing?

The way is which data is collected is changing. The focus on first-party data and consent is going to require businesses to start looking for ways to gather data through their digital touchpoints such as forms, live chats and ads. These touchpoints help in understanding the intent and requirements of your audience and will require businesses to invest in their SEO capabilities as data acquisition will be driven by engaging content.

There have also been changes in privacy laws, and the shift toward mobile and cross platform data tracking. Sixty-five percent of world population will be covered under privacy laws by 2023 as well as the EU digital markets act. These bring the term ‘consent’ into focus for the whole industry as customers will have full control over how data is collected and processed at every digital touchpoint. The distancing from third party cookie data, is bringing first party cookie data to the forefront of the industry. First party cookies are issued by the domain itself and are usually collected from various digital touchpoints on a site. There are more opportunities around using first party data, but also more hurdles that need solutions.

How should businesses prepare?

Data from GA4 will not be able to be moved from UA to GA4 as they are based off different models, so the acquisition of first-party data needs to be at the forefront of a business’s priorities leading up to 2023. Building a more first-party data focussed strategy will allow you to control the principles of ownership of the data and enable you to have a closer relationship with customers. A good way of building up first-party data is going beyond cookie banners, obtaining consent through every digital touchpoint and answering typical customer questions with engaging content.

Presenting a business as an authority in can increase site traffic, and can be accomplished by adding high-quality content, making sure the website is secure, and siting reliable sources. The focus should be put on organic click-through rates and not positioning, engagement rates and time on page, although this data is still valuable.

Organic searches are not impacted by the GA4 changes and are a great way of driving traffic and provide a potential for more revenue. Google Search console is a separate tool and can be integrated with GA4, with its data being held outside of GA4. It has a coverage report which provides information on which pages on your site have been indexed and lists URLs that have presented any problems while Googlebot tries to crawl and index them. Google Search Consoles also has a page experience report which provides insights on the user experience of visitors on your site. This is a great asset as Google now prioritises mobile sites with a good page experience in its searches.

Consumer data platforms (CDP) and customer relationship management (CRM).

Businesses are going to be gathering and centralising more data; and therefore, need to consider a broader consent approach that is managed centrally. Consent will need to be at the core of data collection. Having a centralised data collection system is advantageous to any business moving forward. By using a more first party data focussed system, a business will gain, instead of losing functionality.

CDP’s track unknown leads and use the data alongside the CRM data to track, target and contact customers. These systems need to be aligned and be able to interact with third-party systems and ad partners. Combined, these systems become a crucial first-party data collection asset for a business and have the potential to be better for your business compared to existing services. Setting up a CRM requires a lot of a business’s resources. Vendor CDPs are an option for businesses that already have a CRM and can be integrated. Second-party data can be gathered through a partnership. Both companies would need a common consent management platform to share data.

There are other premises in which a business can collect data under, such as legitimate interest and contractual agreements, but using these approaches would require proof of legal coverage of the data collection.

In conclusion.

Google Analytics 4 is paving the way for the future of data collection and analytics, but it is not necessarily an upgrade from Universal Analytics. No data can be moved from GA to GA4 as the data collection models are different. With these changes being scheduled for 2023, businesses need to plan their data collection and audit their third-party data collection strategies now.

With the focus being put on the acquisition of first-party data, strategies to collect this data need to be put in place and actioned as soon as possible, to avoid the potential loss of data in 2023. CRMs and CDPs are a great way of centralising data and having control over it. Consent will also be at the forefront of data collection and customers should have control over consent at every digital touchpoint. Content is crucial as it will now become the basis in which first-party data will be collected. This content will need to be engaging and answer any questions a customer may have. Businesses should prepare now and avoid the risk of potentially losing valuable data.

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