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Continuous SEO: Can You “Complete” SEO?

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Continuous SEO: Can You "Complete" SEO?

Once you achieve your SEO goals and have a sustainable stream of organic traffic, is it time to refocus budgets to other channels? Can you really “complete” SEO, or should it be continuous?

In this guide, we’ll answer just that and share some top tips for implementing a continuous SEO strategy.

The answer, in short, is almost always no.

SEO, in nature, is a continuous strategy. You can’t just turn it on and off like a tap in the same way you can with PPC, for example.

SEO results are continuous, while PPC results can be turned on and off

But of course, like all things in SEO, it’s much more nuanced than a simple yes or no.

With that in mind, here are the most common reasons as to why you should continue to invest in SEO as an ongoing strategy.

The algorithm doesn’t stand still

In 2022 alone, there were over 10 algorithm updates confirmed by Google. In reality, there were likely many more updates that weren’t publicly announced by Google too.

These many updates and tweaks to the algorithm provide new ways to impress Google. Most of these updates focus on rewarding quality content within the search rankings.

For example, Google recently updated its quality rater guidelines by adding an extra “E” into E-A-T, making it E-E-A-T. Besides making the acronym a bit more confusing to pronounce, it provides some extra opportunities to showcase quality.

The additional “E” stands for experience, meaning Google is now taking into account whether the page is written by someone with personal experience on the respective topic.

Showcasing the difference between experience and expertise

Google hasn’t directly told us that it uses this as a ranking signal. Instead, its quality raters look for examples of this in sites that rank as a means to measure the performance of its own ranking algorithm.

That said, we absolutely know that Google is now taking “experience” more seriously and that its raters are looking for examples of it in content that is ranking well. So with that in mind, it’s a fair assumption that Google is looking to reward sites that showcase E-E-A-T in its rankings.

Another example is Core Web Vitals. In May 2021, Google introduced Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal. Core Web Vitals are a set of technical page experience metrics measured via CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report) using real user data.

Google's Page Experience signals include https, no intrusive interstitials, mobile-friendliness, and Core Web Vitals

Following this, Google has recently announced that it will update its CrUX ranking signals. From March 2024, Google will no longer be using FID (First Input Delay) as a ranking signal, replacing it with INP (Interaction to Next Paint).

This provides new technical challenges that you’ll need to stay on top of.

While Core Web Vitals are widely regarded as a minor ranking signal, you’ll certainly want to stay on top of these metrics. It could well be the difference between a page #1 and page #2 ranking for some of your most competitive keywords. 

With the algorithm being volatile at times and constantly evolving, SEO is not just about getting it right once. A page #1 ranking today could be a page #2 ranking overnight.

There’s always opportunity to improve

Often enough, there’s almost always room to improve and gain more traffic via search terms that are super relevant to your website. After all, it’s pretty much impossible to rank #1 for every keyword you are targeting, even if you are Wikipedia. So there’s always room for growth.

Even at Ahrefs, for example. The team is doing an incredible job at ranking in the top positions for relevant keywords. That said, even within the top traffic-driving keywords, there are always opportunities to improve.

Keywords with strong rankings but also some opportunities to rank higher, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Often, these super important “money” keywords are your most competitive keywords, so keeping your content up to date and optimized is essential to maintaining and further improving on strong rankings.

Beyond ranking in the top positions for your commercial keywords, there’s often so much opportunity to create and scale informational content.

Earlier on, I mentioned the importance of showcasing E-E-A-T. Producing and scaling useful, relevant, and high-quality content is a great way to demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, and trust. You’d also be building up strong associations and topical authority to your niche in the eyes of Google. 

While this may seem complex, in principle, it’s simple.

Let’s say you operate in the toy sector. You can show Google that your business is all about toys by providing useful guides to support your existing e-commerce landing pages. 

There is a wide range of content opportunities here; this could range from tips for cleaning your kid’s toys to reviewing the best storage solutions. Not only does this build relevant associations and topical authority within your niche in the eyes of Google, but you’ll also be putting your brand in front of potential future customers too.

Another benefit to upper-funnel content is that you can raise brand awareness among potential customers. While they may not be looking to make a direct purchase straight away, you’ll be increasing the chances of them making that purchase with you in the future.

In my previous article on fitting SEO into your marketing strategy, I used a kayak store as an example. 

A user searching “how to store a kayak” may consider purchasing a kayak in the future. If they find the guide to be useful and informative, this increases the chances of said user making that purchase through your store.

Target keywords across the marketing funnel (stages include awareness, research, service or product, and brand)

SEO is super competitive

In SEO, it’s easy to forget that it’s not just you going for growth via Google rankings. It’s highly likely that your competitors won’t be standing still.

Complacency is a big danger. While you’ve slowed down, your competitors could be more active by:

  • Updating existing content.
  • Rolling out fresh content to target rising keywords.
  • Building on their existing backlink profiles.

By just standing still, you could soon see your performance “fall backward” in what is a relatively volatile and often competitive channel.

Let’s look at the position history for the keyword “life insurance” via Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer as an example.

Just over a period of 30 days, we’ve seen the top ranking change hands frequently across three competitors.

Three different sites ranking in #1 for "life insurance" at some stage during a 30-day period

Furthermore, we can see how volatile search rankings can be just by following the green line (newyorklife.com). This domain peaked in #1 before temporarily dropping to #7 within a couple of weeks.

Ranking history showing New York Life's ranking volatility

It may be time to conquer new markets

Depending on the needs and capabilities of your business, it may be time to optimize for new markets.

Or if you already have an international SEO strategy, perhaps it’s time to double down on those secondary markets that may have been previously neglected.

Given that international SEO is one of the most complex areas of SEO, it’s unsurprising that many websites struggle to rank in the top positions for their targeted keywords globally.

You can quickly see how you and your competitors are performing globally by entering the respective domains into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

Notice that your main competitor is receiving a lot more traffic from a certain country than you? This is likely worth a deeper investigation.

Table showcasing traffic distribution by country, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

It quite often turns out that your top SEO opportunity countries aren’t the ones that your business is prioritizing. If that is the case, this data is incredibly powerful and could form the business case to reprioritize and focus on new markets with SEO potential.

Five tips for implementing a continuous SEO strategy

We’ve established that you can’t just start and stop SEO and that a continuous SEO strategy is the way forward.

A continuous SEO strategy can range from updating your old content to regularly updating your SOPs to form a more efficient and effective SEO process.

Here are my top five tips for rolling out a continuous SEO strategy.

1. Continuously monitor the technical health of your site

Technical SEO is the crucial foundation of any SEO campaign. Given how big an impact one technical hitch could have on your rankings, adopting a proactive approach is essential.

Sure, conducting a technical audit at the start of an SEO campaign is incredibly useful. However, I find the approach of only doing a technical audit once every six to 12 months as insufficient.

In that interim period, one negative technical change may result in you scrambling to work out what caused a loss in rankings. 

With Ahrefs’ Site Audit, you can set your crawls to run on an automated schedule—be it a daily, weekly, or monthly audit.

You can also schedule the exact time for the audit to run, meaning you’ll have the results from the audit ready at a time that suits you best.

Ahrefs' Site Audit setup screen, with option to schedule regular audits

You’ll be able to compare your results against previous crawls too. So if you notice the number of errors is slightly higher than in recent audits, you’ll know a technical issue has crept in.

I personally like to run these audits at least weekly with regular manual checks in between. This supports a proactive approach to SEO. It also means technical issues are captured as and when they happen, as opposed to several months down the line in a technical audit.

2. Automate repetitive tasks

A continuous SEO strategy doesn’t just require you to “do more SEO,” but also to “do SEO” more effectively.

We just touched on how you can automate your technical auditing by scheduling that on Site Audit. This is a great start for making your SEO workflow more efficient, but we don’t have to stop there.

Since ChatGPT was born into the world, I’m sure we’ve all been presented with the “top five ChatGPT prompts to automate your workflow.”

I have no doubt we can all agree that the social media craze for ChatGPT prompts has diluted the conversation somewhat. 

To save you from the torture of reading these dreaded Twitter threads, Ahrefs’ Si Quan Ong has reviewed and shared some of the best ChatGPT prompts for SEOs and the ones you should avoid (no matter how many Twitter threads they appear in). 

One of my favorite ChatGPT prompts is to generate outlines for content. 

Content outline generated via ChatGPT

Ultimately, my final outline will always look nothing like the initial ChatGPT response. That said, I find this helps get those important “creative juices” flowing while I’m in that ideation phase. This leads to much more efficient production of content outlines.

Keen to learn more about SEO automation? Check out Fraser McCulloch’s automation tips for these nine common SEO tasks.

3. Review and update existing content

Content can naturally become outdated over time. And users can usually tell when an article feels old.

If you wait too long to update your content, your competitors could have: 

  • Information that’s more up to date.
  • Statistics and analysis from more recent datasets.
  • Case studies that are more relevant to today’s questions.
Traffic graph showing sustained increase in traffic following a content refresh

Ultimately, it’s Google’s job to ensure users have a good experience when they click through to content via the search results. So if your competitors are doing a good job at keeping their content up to date and you are not, you’ll likely lose out in the rankings.

Google uses a ranking factor called Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) to determine how fresh a piece of content should be in order to rank for a particular search term.

This ranking signal is pretty much what it says on the tin. If Google determines that users are looking for fresh content in their searches, it will look to prioritize fresh content in the rankings.

Google leans on news sites, blog posts, and search requests to determine when users are looking for fresh content in their searches. In 2007, Amit Singhal (former VP at Google) talked about this in an article for The New York Times:

The QDF solution revolves around determining whether a topic is “hot.” If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current information.

We shouldn’t interpret QDF as just applying to news items. What could seem like an “evergreen” keyword could soon need fresh content—should there be a strong rise in related news posts and skyrocketing search demand.

To learn more, Ahrefs’ Josh Hardwick has a guide on implementing an SEO content republishing strategy.

4. Continue to look for new content opportunities

As the demands from users change over time, this is reflected in the queries they search for online. In turn, this means that new content opportunities will arise every now and then.

You can stay on top of new content opportunities by:

  • Regularly conducting keyword research.
  • Regularly checking for keyword/content gaps between you and your competitors.

Ahrefs’ new Competitive Analysis tool is great for seeing what keywords your competitors rank for that you don’t.

Start off by entering your domain as the target and then the domains of your competitors.

Entering target and competitor domains to set up competitive analysis, via Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis tool

In just a few clicks, you’ll be presented with a list of keywords that your competitors rank for (within the top 10 positions by default) where you don’t rank at all. 

Keyword gaps, via Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis tool

I personally like to go one step further and set the “Target position” filter to “No position or custom” with a minimum ranking of 11. 

Applying filters in Ahrefs' Competitive Analysis tool

This means we’ll now be presented with a list of keywords that our competitors rank in the top 10 positions where we rank from page #2 or worse.

Keyword gaps (based on top 10 rankings), via Ahrefs Competitive Analysis tool

This is super useful for staying on top of what content your competitors are rolling out and what keyword gaps you may need to jump on.

5. Monitor and review your performance frequently

Most SEOs would agree that effective monitoring and reporting are essential. That said, I believe it’s an area that can be done more effectively by many.

One example is that many SEOs rely solely on Search Console to see how they are ranking for their top keywords.

There’s no doubt Search Console is an incredibly useful source for reporting and should be included in reports. That said, I don’t see it as the most effective tool to measure ranking performance. Here’s why:

  • Average ranking data is often heavily skewed by irrelevant searches (e.g., irrelevant locations). 
  • Data lag means you can’t see how you are ranking for a keyword today.
  • You can’t compare the share of voice and rankings against competitors.

A rank tracking tool like Ahrefs’ Rank Tracker is essential for daily ranking updates for your domain and your competitors. You’ll also benefit from useful metrics like share of voice and estimated traffic.

To get started with Rank Tracker, simply set your location, enter your keywords from your own keyword lists, and hit “continue.” Don’t forget to include your competitors on the next step too.

Entering keyword list into Ahrefs' Rank Tracker

In no time, you’ll start to see ranking data pull through for your keyword list, such as the respective ranking positions and ranking URLs.

Ahrefs' Rank Tracker displaying ranking data, such as position and URL, for tracked keywords

Don’t forget to connect Ahrefs up to your custom SEO dashboards, whether that’s Looker Studio or through API calls.

Final thoughts

SEO, as an ongoing and continuous strategy, should be non-negotiable.

As tempting as it may be to refocus budgets to other channels or rest on your laurels, complacency is a huge risk to organic performance.

Implement a continuous SEO strategy by:

  • Regularly monitoring the technical health of your site.
  • Automating repetitive tasks.
  • Reviewing and updating existing content.
  • Looking for new content opportunities.
  • Reviewing your performance frequently.

Have any questions? Ping me on Twitter and let me know.



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GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After ‘Unexpected’ Delays

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GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After 'Unexpected' Delays

OpenAI shares its plans for the GPT Store, enhancements to GPT Builder tools, privacy improvements, and updates coming to ChatGPT.

  • OpenAI has scheduled the launch of the GPT Store for early next year, aligning with its ongoing commitment to developing advanced AI technologies.
  • The GPT Builder tools have received substantial updates, including a more intuitive configuration interface and improved file handling capabilities.
  • Anticipation builds for upcoming updates to ChatGPT, highlighting OpenAI’s responsiveness to community feedback and dedication to AI innovation.

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96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here’s How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]

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96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here's How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]

It’s no secret that the web is growing by millions, if not billions of pages per day.

Our Content Explorer tool discovers 10 million new pages every 24 hours while being very picky about the pages that qualify for inclusion. The “main” Ahrefs web crawler crawls that number of pages every two minutes. 

But how much of this content gets organic traffic from Google?

To find out, we took the entire database from our Content Explorer tool (around 14 billion pages) and studied how many pages get traffic from organic search and why.

How many web pages get organic search traffic?

96.55% of all pages in our index get zero traffic from Google, and 1.94% get between one and ten monthly visits.

Distribution of pages by traffic from Content Explorer

Before we move on to discussing why the vast majority of pages never get any search traffic from Google (and how to avoid being one of them), it’s important to address two discrepancies with the studied data:

  1. ~14 billion pages may seem like a huge number, but it’s not the most accurate representation of the entire web. Even compared to the size of Site Explorer’s index of 340.8 billion pages, our sample size for this study is quite small and somewhat biased towards the “quality side of the web.”
  2. Our search traffic numbers are estimates. Even though our database of ~651 million keywords in Site Explorer (where our estimates come from) is arguably the largest database of its kind, it doesn’t contain every possible thing people search for in Google. There’s a chance that some of these pages get search traffic from super long-tail keywords that are not popular enough to make it into our database.

That said, these two “inaccuracies” don’t change much in the grand scheme of things: the vast majority of published pages never rank in Google and never get any search traffic. 

But why is this, and how can you be a part of the minority that gets organic search traffic from Google?

Well, there are hundreds of SEO issues that may prevent your pages from ranking well in Google. But if we focus only on the most common scenarios, assuming the page is indexed, there are only three of them.

Reason 1: The topic has no search demand

If nobody is searching for your topic, you won’t get any search traffic—even if you rank #1.

For example, I recently Googled “pull sitemap into google sheets” and clicked the top-ranking page (which solved my problem in seconds, by the way). But if you plug that URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, you’ll see that it gets zero estimated organic search traffic:

The top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demandThe top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demand

This is because hardly anyone else is searching for this, as data from Keywords Explorer confirms:

Keyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demandKeyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demand

This is why it’s so important to do keyword research. You can’t just assume that people are searching for whatever you want to talk about. You need to check the data.

Our Traffic Potential (TP) metric in Keywords Explorer can help with this. It estimates how much organic search traffic the current top-ranking page for a keyword gets from all the queries it ranks for. This is a good indicator of the total search demand for a topic.

You’ll see this metric for every keyword in Keywords Explorer, and you can even filter for keywords that meet your minimum criteria (e.g., 500+ monthly traffic potential): 

Filtering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Reason 2: The page has no backlinks

Backlinks are one of Google’s top three ranking factors, so it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a clear correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and its traffic.

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
Pages with more referring domains get more traffic

Same goes for the correlation between a page’s traffic and keyword rankings:

Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywordsPages with more referring domains rank for more keywords
Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywords

Does any of this data prove that backlinks help you rank higher in Google?

No, because correlation does not imply causation. However, most SEO professionals will tell you that it’s almost impossible to rank on the first page for competitive keywords without backlinks—an observation that aligns with the data above.

The key word there is “competitive.” Plenty of pages get organic traffic while having no backlinks…

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
How much traffic pages with no backlinks get

… but from what I can tell, almost all of them are about low-competition topics.

For example, this lyrics page for a Neil Young song gets an estimated 162 monthly visits with no backlinks: 

Example of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content ExplorerExample of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

But if we check the keywords it ranks for, they almost all have Keyword Difficulty (KD) scores in the single figures:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

It’s the same story for this page selling upholstered headboards:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

You might have noticed two other things about these pages:

  • Neither of them get that much traffic. This is pretty typical. Our index contains ~20 million pages with no referring domains, yet only 2,997 of them get more than 1K search visits per month. That’s roughly 1 in every 6,671 pages with no backlinks.
  • Both of the sites they’re on have high Domain Rating (DR) scores. This metric shows the relative strength of a website’s backlink profile. Stronger sites like these have more PageRank that they can pass to pages with internal links to help them rank. 

Bottom line? If you want your pages to get search traffic, you really only have two options:

  1. Target uncompetitive topics that you can rank for with few or no backlinks.
  2. Target competitive topics and build backlinks to rank.

If you want to find uncompetitive topics, try this:

  1. Enter a topic into Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Set the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to max. 20
  4. Set the Lowest DR filter to your site’s DR (this will show you keywords with at least one of the same or lower DR ranking in the top 5)
Filtering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

(Remember to keep an eye on the TP column to make sure they have traffic potential.)

To rank for more competitive topics, you’ll need to earn or build high-quality backlinks to your page. If you’re not sure how to do that, start with the guides below. Keep in mind that it’ll be practically impossible to get links unless your content adds something to the conversation. 

Reason 3. The page doesn’t match search intent

Google wants to give users the most relevant results for a query. That’s why the top organic results for “best yoga mat” are blog posts with recommendations, not product pages. 

It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"

Basically, Google knows that searchers are in research mode, not buying mode.

It’s also why this page selling yoga mats doesn’t show up, despite it having backlinks from more than six times more websites than any of the top-ranking pages:

Page selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinksPage selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinks
Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"

Luckily, the page ranks for thousands of other more relevant keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. So it’s not such a big deal that it doesn’t rank for “best yoga mats.”

Number of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga matsNumber of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga mats

However, if you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic—and they already target a keyword with traffic potential—another quick SEO win is to re-optimize them for search intent.

We did this in 2018 with our free backlink checker.

It was originally nothing but a boring landing page explaining the benefits of our product and offering a 7-day trial: 

Original landing page for our free backlink checkerOriginal landing page for our free backlink checker

After analyzing search intent, we soon realized the issue:

People weren’t looking for a landing page, but rather a free tool they could use right away. 

So, in September 2018, we created a free tool and published it under the same URL. It ranked #1 pretty much overnight, and has remained there ever since. 

Our rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the pageOur rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the page

Organic traffic went through the roof, too. From ~14K monthly organic visits pre-optimization to almost ~200K today. 

Estimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checkerEstimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checker

TLDR

96.55% of pages get no organic traffic. 

Keep your pages in the other 3.45% by building backlinks, choosing topics with organic traffic potential, and matching search intent.

Ping me on Twitter if you have any questions. 🙂



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Firefox URL Tracking Removal – Is This A Trend To Watch?

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Firefox URL Tracking Removal - Is This A Trend To Watch?

Firefox recently announced that they are offering users a choice on whether or not to include tracking information from copied URLs, which comes on the on the heels of iOS 17 blocking user tracking via URLs. The momentum of removing tracking information from URLs appears to be gaining speed. Where is this all going and should marketers be concerned?

Is it possible that blocking URL tracking parameters in the name of privacy will become a trend industrywide?

Firefox Announcement

Firefox recently announced that beginning in the Firefox Browser version 120.0, users will be able to select whether or not they want URLs that they copied to contain tracking parameters.

When users select a link to copy and click to raise the contextual menu for it, Firefox is now giving users a choice as to whether to copy the URL with or without the URL tracking parameters that might be attached to the URL.

Screenshot Of Firefox 120 Contextual Menu

Screenshot of Firefox functionality

According to the Firefox 120 announcement:

“Firefox supports a new “Copy Link Without Site Tracking” feature in the context menu which ensures that copied links no longer contain tracking information.”

Browser Trends For Privacy

All browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Chrome variants, are adding new features that make it harder for websites to track users online through referrer information embedded in a URL when a user clicks from one site and leaves through that click to visit another site.

This trend for privacy has been ongoing for many years but it became more noticeable in 2020 when Chrome made changes to how referrer information was sent when users click links to visit other sites. Firefox and Safari followed with similar referrer behavior.

Whether the current Firefox implementation would be disruptive or if the impact is overblown is kind of besides the point.

What is the point is whether or not what Firefox and Apple did to protect privacy is a trend and if that trend will extend to more blocking of URL parameters that are stronger than what Firefox recently implemented.

I asked Kenny Hyder, CEO of online marketing agency Pixel Main, what his thoughts are about the potential disruptive aspect of what Firefox is doing and whether it’s a trend.

Kenny answered:

“It’s not disruptive from Firefox alone, which only has a 3% market share. If other popular browsers follow suit it could begin to be disruptive to a limited degree, but easily solved from a marketers prospective.

If it became more intrusive and they blocked UTM tags, it would take awhile for them all to catch on if you were to circumvent UTM tags by simply tagging things in a series of sub-directories.. ie. site.com/landing/<tag1>/<tag2> etc.

Also, most savvy marketers are already integrating future proof workarounds for these exact scenarios.

A lot can be done with pixel based integrations rather than cookie based or UTM tracking. When set up properly they can actually provide better and more accurate tracking and attribution. Hence the name of my agency, Pixel Main.”

I think most marketers are aware that privacy is the trend. The good ones have already taken steps to keep it from becoming a problem while still respecting user privacy.”

Some URL Parameters Are Already Affected

For those who are on the periphery of what’s going on with browsers and privacy, it may come as a surprise that some tracking parameters are already affected by actions meant to protect user privacy.

Jonathan Cairo, Lead Solutions Engineer at Elevar shared that there is already a limited amount of tracking related information stripped from URLs.

But he also explained that there are limits to how much information can be stripped from URLs because the resulting negative effects would cause important web browsing functionality to fail.

Jonathan explained:

“So far, we’re seeing a selective trend where some URL parameters, like ‘fbclid’ in Safari’s private browsing, are disappearing, while others, such as TikTok’s ‘ttclid’, remain.

UTM parameters are expected to stay since they focus on user segmentation rather than individual tracking, provided they are used as intended.

The idea of completely removing all URL parameters seems improbable, as it would disrupt key functionalities on numerous websites, including banking services and search capabilities.

Such a drastic move could lead users to switch to alternative browsers.

On the other hand, if only some parameters are eliminated, there’s the possibility of marketers exploiting the remaining ones for tracking purposes.

This raises the question of whether companies like Apple will take it upon themselves to prevent such use.

Regardless, even in a scenario where all parameters are lost, there are still alternative ways to convey click IDs and UTM information to websites.”

Brad Redding of Elevar agreed about the disruptive effect from going too far with removing URL tracking information:

“There is still too much basic internet functionality that relies on query parameters, such as logging in, password resets, etc, which are effectively the same as URL parameters in a full URL path.

So we believe the privacy crackdown is going to continue on known trackers by blocking their tracking scripts, cookies generated from them, and their ability to monitor user’s activity through the browser.

As this grows, the reliance on brands to own their first party data collection and bring consent preferences down to a user-level (vs session based) will be critical so they can backfill gaps in conversion data to their advertising partners outside of the browser or device.”

The Future Of Tracking, Privacy And What Marketers Should Expect

Elevar raises good points about how far browsers can go in terms of how much blocking they can do. Their response that it’s down to brands to own their first party data collection and other strategies to accomplish analytics without compromising user privacy.

Given all the laws governing privacy and Internet tracking that have been enacted around the world it looks like privacy will continue to be a trend.

However, at this point it time, the advice is to keep monitoring how far browsers are going but there is no expectation that things will get out of hand.

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