SEO and the future world without cookies

SEO and the future world without cookies

Third-party cookie tracking is on the rise, and the SEO industry is ready and diligently preparing ambivalents and posting memes on Twitter.

SEO has been dealing with non-tracking cookies since its existence.

So does the death of the cookie actually count?

Well, my friends, I am here to tell you two things.

The good news: this change means something and there is an opportunity.

The bad news: it won’t be easy.

It takes some smart chops to do it, along with considerable resources that you are unlikely to have sitting there in the SEO corner of the office (remote, of course).

What’s the situation?

What’s the situation?

Legislation, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), are tightening what advertisers can use to track users.

I think the statement behind this initiative – that consumers want more control of their data – is partially valid but not tremendous.

Most users do not care and do not think about who is following them, except in passing. It’s not a concern that makes them change their online behavior unless they’re trying to hide something.

Most of us prefer to have clarity and reasonable limits on what advertisers can track and how they target us. But in general, I found that we leave it at that.

The average user doesn’t think much of this, especially since it gets technical and specialized quickly, and even more so by the year.

But these privacy restrictions are coming and they are a good thing.

Have you noticed, for example, the increase in listening-targeted ads and content being served by Google?

Try an experiment sometime in your home.

Start talking about a random but specific topic and repeat the main word a few times.

You’ll likely find it in your news feed, in ads, in search results, and scattered around in the most unusual “recommended” places.

It is probably good to have legislation that sets some limits, however, they are limited at this early stage.

It’s not new, anyway. The focus on cookies has been around for years.

For example, Firefox started blocking third-party cookies as early as 2019. Safari followed suit in 2020.

As the move to a cookie-free future gains momentum and creates greater constraints in digital advertising, SEO needs to keep pace.

We need to get a seat at the table, especially with regards to measuring channel effectiveness, attribution, and yes, incrementality (I said it!).

The latter is a big word – and a hard thing to do in SEO.

Historical measurement models

Historical measurement models

Traditional measurement models that leverage cookies, such as multi-touch attribution (MTA), will increasingly be removed from analytics toolsets.

The two primary models that marketers have historically used are media mix modeling (MMM) and MTA.

MMM is a top-down approach that typically covers several years of data, while MTA is a bottom-up, more granular approach, and relies on cookies to track sessions and users.

The problems with cookies are of some significance, too. They fail to measure cross-device, and more recently, are opt-in only.

But marketers have yet to measure performance. Cookies were useful for this.

Next-level ideas for tracking SEO

Next-level ideas for tracking SEO

When considering how a cookie-free future affects SEO, follow the pattern already established by other measurement channels: build a clean room.

The reality is that a clean room probably won’t be built specifically for SEO. It doesn’t have to be – since SEO doesn’t have first-party data, anyway.

This is where the harsh reality of SEO relative to other channels becomes apparent. Measuring it will not lead to the investment of resources across the organization. Not alone, anyway.

But you can leverage the work others have done in paid media, for example, to get some interesting measurement applications for SEO.

Aggregated attribution

Instead of using individual data, this approach takes a high frequency metric (ie organic search sessions) and examines how other media (ie TV spots) affects the channel.

This type of analysis provides insight into how SEO captures the demand created by a television ad, offline campaign, or display campaign.

Modified media mix modeling 

Trying to force organic clicks into media mix modeling (MMM) is a misapplication of the metric due to the fact that it is changing the results already reported to the organization.

The paid media team disagrees, and the organization is distracted and potentially mired in attribution arguments.

Instead, we can take MMM and discard all media driven sales. Then, we can run SEO clicks against base sales to try to tease out the SEO signal that is hiding in the base.

In addition, we can consider running a model of paid media impressions against SEO clicks to understand media interaction.

This is similar to the aggregate attribution approach but more granular.

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Additional considerations

Additional considerations

We have to balance the reality of how much teams are willing to invest in tracking the effectiveness of SEO, relative to other channels.

There is a lot of money pouring into media, of course, and this is driving strong innovation in the modeling and attribution of the media mix for these channels.

The same cannot be said for SEO. But we need to find ways to measure the effectiveness of SEO, and it needs to be sophisticated in line with the approaches of other channels today.

Gone are the days of relying on third-party Semrush charts, except in cases perhaps where we’re looking at competitive insights.

Existing MMM solutions may already have adequate knowledge available to them that includes proprietary and acquired observations without risking what analytics teams call, “collinearity”, the phenomenon of knowledge being hampered by data sets that are dependently (ie, linearly) correlated. ) when sliced ​​and diced.

Another consideration is that teams may simply not need, or have the budget for, complex modeling like MMM. In these cases, maybe Google Analytics 4 and Adobe do everything that is needed on a basic level, which can be added with some SEO testing.


The answer to all this is simple but difficult to accomplish.

SEO as a famous channel plays second fiddle to media – be it paid search, display or paid social.

Yes, companies invest in SEO and take care of SEO.

When all else is considered, however, media dollars will always take precedence in any measurement conversations.

Resources follow money, and SEO is at the short end of the stick when it comes to resources from the analytics and data science teams.

Entering SEO datasets into the cleanroom and aligning them with other data sources is essential to gain insight into the channel.

As digital marketers move towards using clean rooms like Google Ads Data Hub (ADH) and others, SEO teams need to bring site analytics data into these environments.

By bringing the data together, SEOs can look at customer journeys across paid media impressions, clicks and site activity (including a tag to the source as organic search).

In this new environment with SEO analytics data added to a clean room, marketers can also arrive at an attribution use case to measure the contribution and even incrementality of the SEO channel and r -his relationship with the other channels.

But here’s a tricky catch. The reason it is difficult is that generating buy-in from others is essential.

There is already enough focus and resources centered on this transition away from cookies towards clean rooms and more traceable solutions.

This means that resources are not sitting (usually) waiting to accommodate SEO. And most marketers won’t be interested in ranking SEO priorities over media, especially when it comes to things like attribution and measuring channel performance.

But this is exactly what we need as SEOs more than ever: good performance tracking.

And we especially need the contribution of SEO, and yes, an incremental increase for the cross-channel press.

Doing this successfully is part of the SEO world: navigating resources and teams along with generating buy-in from the right groups to prioritize this work.

If you can do this, the whole organization will benefit from greater clarity of SEO’s contribution and its value to the business.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Adam Audette is SVP SEO and Data Science at Blend360. Adam started his career in the early 2000s by co-founding the SEO agency AudetteMedia. He was the global head of SEO for Merkle / Dentsu for almost eight years. He now works at Blend360 which combines the worlds of data science and SEO. Adam and his teams have worked with many of the world’s leading brands, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Zappos, Walmart, Target, Experian, Samsung, Walgreens, and many others.

Do websites actually need cookies?

What are Cookies? HTTP cookies are essential to the modern Internet but a vulnerability to your privacy. As a necessary part of web browsing, HTTP cookies help web developers provide you with more personal and convenient website visits. Cookies allow websites to remember you, your website logins, shopping carts and more.

What happens if you refuse cookies on a website? Accepting cookies gives you the best user experience on the website, while failing cookies could potentially interfere with your use of the site. For example, online shopping. Cookies allow the site to keep track of all the items you have placed in your cart as you continue browsing.

Are necessary cookies really necessary?

Strictly necessary cookies are essential for websites to work because they help to improve your experience on the site and make it easier for you to use it. For example, cookies can be used to remember your language preferences and other settings you have made to make your visit as efficient as possible.

Are there necessary cookies?

Strictly necessary cookies – These cookies are essential for you to browse the website and use its features, such as access to secure areas of the site. Cookies that allow web stores to keep your items in your cart while you are shopping online are an example of strictly necessary cookies.

Is it OK to remove all cookies from my computer?

Click View All Cookies and Site Data to see a list of cookies currently installed locally on your computer. You can go through them one by one and delete as desired. It’s not a bad idea to just do Clear All on cookies every few months, just to clean things up.

Can third party cookies be strictly necessary?

If your service includes cookies used for online advertising purposes, you cannot rely on the strictly necessary exemption. Online advertising cookies are not exempt from PECR consent requirements and never have been.

What are benefits of cookies?

Provides high nutrition and proteins The cookies you eat can help you boost your energy because it contains whole wheat flour, which provides a nutritious source of proteins, vitamins, fiber and minerals that help produce a stable metabolism.

How do cookies benefit users? Cookies are often used to enable better online user experiences. Stores often use cookies to keep track of any personal information you enter, as well as pages you’ve browsed and items in your shopping cart. Most people find cookies to be very useful.

Are cookies good for health?

One of the health benefits of cookies is that they provide a high nutritional value to our body. Digestive cookies are the best snacks for people who have diabetes and obesity.

Is it OK to eat a cookie everyday?

Can You Eat Cookies and Get Lean? Of course you can. Just be careful to consistently eat the amount of calories that will keep you at the weight you want to be, and make the majority of your meals âhealthy.â Cookies (or any treat you like) are part from the diet… not the whole diet.

Why cookies are not healthy?

It removes the bad. The health issue for homemade cookies is that they are usually made with refined white flour, butter and sugar. That is the recipe for shortbread, and the basis for almost all cookies. None of those three ingredients provide any nutritional value.

Are cookies a healthy snack?

Just remember, just eat a few cookies to provide the body’s energy consumption and avoid the accumulation of fat. Cookies can be an alternative snack every day from other unhealthy snacks because they contain good nutrition to provide energy consumption such as sugar and carbohydrates. And the best part is that it is very tasty.

Can you still retarget without cookies?

The good news, however, is that retargeting without cookies is still possible. All you need is to create a dedicated landing page that is unique to your ad campaign. Once you’ve got your original campaign down, you can then run a retargeting campaign against visitors to that dedicated landing page.

Does retargeting use cookies? Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses simple Javascript code to anonymously ‘track’ your audience across the Web. Here’s how it works: you place a small inconspicuous piece of code on your website (this code is sometimes called a pixel).

What happens to retargeting without cookies?

The Impact On Publishers Without a doubt, the elimination of third-party cookies will make retargeting ads less effective; therefore, advertisers pay less to display them on the publisher’s site. It will possibly force many to adopt the paywall business model.

Does retargeting go away?

Retargeting as we know it today will go away in 2023, due to Google’s decision to deprecate the third-party cookie. Online advertising has relied on third-party cookies to retarget, track the history of online behavior across different websites, collect data, and serve ads for many years.

How will ads work without cookies?

Third-party cookies allow B2B marketers to identify such leads and buy impressions based on the behavior of individual viewers. Without cookies, ad targeting will suffer.

How do I advertise without cookies?

4 Tips to Prepare for Marketing without Cookies

  • Turn on Google Analytics 4.
  • Start Collecting Part One Data.
  • Invest More in Market Research.
  • Focus on Personalization.
  • Use AI-Based Bidding.
  • Reconsider KPIs.
  • Use Contextual Based Advertising.
  • Location and Time Based Targeting.

How do I target ads without cookies?

To succeed in the cookie-free world, use a first-party data strategy and refocus on consent-based advertising by obtaining users’ informed consent before collecting their data.

Does Google ads work without cookies?

Without Chrome-based third-party cookie data, you will still be able to leverage and target Google Ads, which will be powered by Google Chrome’s first-party cookies and Privacy Sandbox tools. However, some software and ad platforms that require third-party data will take a big hit without support from Chrome.

Does blocking cookies stop ads?

Keep your signed preferences without cookies: If you delete your cookies or use a browser that blocks cookies, your ad settings will not apply.

Should I accept cookies on Google?

Should you accept cookies? â The short answer is, no, you do not have to accept cookies. Rules like GDPR were designed to give you control over your data and browsing history.

Should I allow Google cookies? If cookies are disabled in your Google Chrome app, browsing the web will probably be a bit more difficult for you than it needs to be. Cookies can personalize your browsing experience, help sites keep you logged in, know who you are, and remember your preferences.

What does Google do with cookies?

They help that website remember information about your visit, which can both make it easier to revisit the site and make the site more useful to you. Other technologies, including unique identifiers used to identify a browser, app or device, pixels, and local storage, may also be used for these purposes.

Should I allow cookies on Google?

They make your online experience easier by saving browsing information. With cookies, sites can keep you signed in, remember your site preferences, and provide you with locally relevant content.

Do cookies spy you?

Cookies allow websites to remember you, your website logins, shopping carts and more. But they can also be a treasure trove of private information for criminals to spy on. Protecting your privacy online can be overwhelming. Fortunately, even a basic understanding of cookies can help you keep unwanted eyes out of your internet activity.

Why is Google getting rid of cookies?

Google announced in early 2020 their plans to remove third-party cookies for Google Chrome. Chrome is the most common browser with more than 63% of the market share globally. Advertisers and publishers were concerned whether Google had a plan to replace the cookie tracking technology in Chrome.

How do I get Google to accept cookies?

In the Chrome app

  • On your Android phone or tablet, open the Chrome app.
  • On the right, tap More. Settings.
  • Tap site settings. Cookies.
  • Turn Cookies on or off.

Why do I keep having to accept cookies on Google?

This is most likely a problem with either: Your Google User is not declared. Your Browser is set to clear your cache and cookies upon exiting or restarting the program or your computer.

Why can I not accept cookies?

Having new cookies stored in your browser again and again can also slow down your computer. Cookies take up disk space, which can affect your computer’s speed. Cookies marked. Antivirus software may indicate suspicious cookies, in which case you should not accept them (or delete them if you already have them).

What happens if we accept cookies in Chrome?

With cookies, sites can: Keep you signed in. Remember your site preferences. Give you locally relevant content.

Should cookies be on or off?

In fact, the only way cookies on your computer can be seen is from the web server that sent you the cookies. Because many websites rely on cookies, I recommend that you leave cookies turned on in your browser. They are not a big security risk and can make your web browsing much more efficient.