Digital marketers have heralded the end of third-party cookies — or the Cookiepocalypse, as some call it — for a few years now. Many browsers have already put an end to third-party cookies, and Google currently plans to dump them in 2024. This presents marketers with a unique opportunity to diversify their digital marketing efforts to diminish the effects of a cookieless world.
Third-party cookies have been in the final refrain of their swan song for a while now. Mozilla blocked third-party cookies in September 2019, and Safari followed suit in 2020. Microsoft’s Edge browser also blocks third-party cookies by default — Google Chrome is the only browser that currently defaults to allowing third-party cookies and they’ve started deprecating them as of January 4.
Why Does the Cookiepocalypse Matter?
For many marketers, not having access to data from third-party cookies means not being able to connect with as many potential customers. However, by implementing a comprehensive search engine optimization (SEO) strategy now — or expanding your current SEO strategy — you can mitigate the effects of a cookieless future and increase your site’s topical relevance and organic traffic.
With a year-plus of advanced warning, this is the perfect opportunity to diversify your digital advertising channels to account for potential revenue loss from the death of third-party cookies.
Marketers often use third-party cookies to track users across websites and target ads; thus, companies that use them as a primary driver for their marketing efforts will be most affected by their deprecation. If you diversify now, you protect your ability to connect with consumers and can find workable alternatives that allow you to replace third-party cookies as a source of data.
I was surprised by this stat from GetApp and HubSpot:
“44% of marketers predict a need to increase their spending by 5% to 25% in order to reach the same goals as 2021.”
That’s a considerable spending bump — and all to access data that is increasingly harder to get. But is this the right approach to cookieless advertising?
Yes, first-party data — data you collect from activity on your own site — will still be available, as will new solutions like Google’s Privacy Sandbox. Until then, focusing your efforts on SEO can help you build topical authority around the keywords most relevant to your industry.
SEO provides a unique opportunity for marketers to draw more traffic to their websites without reliance on third-party cookies. However, SEO takes time, so the sooner you start, the better.
An important note: Don’t just consider the third-party cookies you use in your own marketing efforts. If you utilize a live chat service on your website or other vendors to provide online services to your customers, check whether they use third-party cookies. If they are, ask about their plans to phase out third-party cookies and how it will affect their service offerings.
The Value of SEO in a Cookieless World
At the root of third-party cookie deprecation are privacy concerns. Regulations like the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) require tech companies to alter their data collection practices to be compliant.
Not only are web browsers restricting third-party cookies, but tech companies like Google and Apple are trying to stay ahead of the regulation curve by focusing on privacy concerns and proactively making changes.
Thankfully, SEO doesn’t require gathering personal data.
You can learn more about how your website performs in search, which web pages are most popular, and what people do once they land on your website with free tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics — all without gathering intrusive data. By combining this information with first-party data, you’ll better understand your target audience and how they interact with your content so you can draw new traffic to your site.
Year after year, marketers have found SEO is one of their most profitable marketing channels — so why not recalibrate your SEO strategy to expand your organic reach? The Cookiepocalypse provides the perfect impetus to shake up your current digital marketing strategy.
In fact, for many industries, SEO provides a higher CTR than PPC ads. (Check out the stats in our blog post on SEO vs. PPC.) For me, this indicates additional investment in SEO may drive more revenue than finding alternative ways to retarget ads once third-party cookies are no longer an option.
In addition, the effects of SEO last longer than those of PPC ads. Once you turn off a PPC ad, it’s like turning off a faucet. You’ll no longer receive additional value from that channel until you turn the faucet back on. On the other hand, SEO continues to pay off even if you don’t actively create new content (though I don’t recommend testing this out). Once you’ve optimized your site, you make it easier to draw traffic in the future.
How to Get Started with SEO
Here are some general recommendations and resources to get started with SEO. If you want to learn more about how your business can implement or expand an SEO strategy, schedule a free consultation.
Budget for SEO
Search engine optimization is a long-term strategy, and it’s wise to plan accordingly. To start, consider how much you can invest in this channel. There are multiple ways to work SEO into your marketing budget. Check out this blog post to identify which is best for your business.
Complete Keyword Research
Keyword research is one of the critical engines that powers search engine optimization. Thorough, systematized keyword research allows you to identify high-value words and phrases that will help you capture organic traffic.
Learn how to do keyword research for yourself here.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by keyword research. There are often hundreds of words and phrases you can target for one site alone — and that doesn’t include all the long-tail keyword variations. Rather than trying to capture every keyword, focus on the keywords for your most important pages first. These could be particular services pages or product pages that you want to draw more traffic to.
When identifying keywords, dig into search intent to understand where the keyword falls in your buyers’ journey. Google potential keywords to see what type of content dominates the SERPs.
Alternatively, an SEO agency that offers a keyword research service can handle this task for you.
Evaluate Your Site’s Health with an Audit
At the onset of your SEO campaign, it’s wise to audit your site to identify any technical issues that could negatively impact your search rankings or user experience.
An SEO audit helps you find issues like:
- Crawling and indexing errors that prevent search engines from accessing your website
- Duplicate content and canonicalization issues
- Spammy backlinks
- Unnecessary or incorrect redirects
- Penalties or security issues
- Missing or problematic h1s, page titles, meta descriptions, and alt text
- Slow load times
Your audit will help you create a strategy based on the current state of your website and identify opportunities for improvement. For example, you may find your product pages lack structured data. By adding the appropriate schema to those pages, you can position content to secure rich snippets in search results. These attractive additions increase the chances of a consumer clicking on your link.
Once you’ve dealt with technical SEO concerns like a missing robots.txt file, crawl errors, and core web vitals, you can turn your attention to creating new optimized content.
You may have used some of your target keywords for your PPC campaigns or created content around them. If you have a page associated with a keyword you want to target, it’s a good idea to reevaluate the effectiveness of the content on your page. For example, while it may have served as an excellent PPC landing page, you may need to expand or edit your content to better fit searchers’ needs.
Need to create a post around a particular keyword and aren’t sure where to start? Use our free blog post template.
Invest Time in Link Building
To improve your chances of ranking for your desired keywords, you need to secure backlinks for your new content.
Ahrefs recently did a study that highlighted the importance of backlinks and distinct referring domains for drawing organic traffic. It found that pages with little to no referring domains received no traffic and rarely ranked in SERPs. If you want your content to rank, you need to create a link-building strategy.
However, acquiring backlinks takes time — and so does seeing their benefit. Whether you guest post, partake in broken link building, or work with a link-building service, it will take weeks for search engines to identify your backlinks and pass the appropriate link equity to your content.
Because of this, the earlier you start your SEO strategy, the better.
Monitor Metrics Aligned with Your Goals
If focusing on the click-through or conversion rate of your PPC ads is second nature to you, you’re probably already familiar with some of the metrics you’ll want to track for your SEO strategy. Ideally, the metrics you choose will align with your SEO goals and help you more easily identify whether your campaign is working and driving qualified traffic to your website.
Once you know what you want to track and which metrics will help you understand whether you’re on the right path, set up custom events in Google Analytics to gain further insight into what’s happening on your website. GA events let you track specific actions like clicks on a particular landing page, email submissions, or even social shares. If you’ve used Google Ads, you may have already set up some goals to track the effectiveness of your campaigns. Now you can use the same feature to monitor SEO performance.
Partner with a Team Committed to Your Success
Worried about how to replace third-party cookies? A cookieless future doesn’t have to tank your marketing strategy. Diversify now to reach your target audience and convert them into customers. Whether you’re investing in SEO for the first time or simply expanding your strategy, working with an SEO agency committed to helping you rank for valuable keywords can help you supercharge your success. Let Victorious help you establish a winning SEO strategy and build brand awareness. Schedule a free SEO consultation today to learn more.