Privacy in Search Engines & Blocking Extensions

Today I wanted to focus a bit on privacy and security. This is central to every marketer and I think it’s something we should be considering heavily.

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First I wanted to talk a bit about search engines, their privacy and what we’re seeing in the marketplace.

First talking about some of the bigger names in private search engines:

The biggest name right now in private browsing is duck duck go who is averaging 105 million queries per month so far in January 2022. Duck Duck Go is actually the #2 search engine on mobile in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. On desktop, it has about 2.5% market share in the US, around what Bing’s market share is at. If you feel have been using Bing for advertising or doing SEO for Bing, then don’t discount DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo is also launching their desktop browser which will be in my opinion a major competitor to Google. Their mobile browser has a huge install rate, and it would only make sense that mobile users would like this experience on the desktop systems.

Another search engine that you may have heard of is Neeva. This is a subscription based search engine with no advertising created by Sridhar Ramaswamy (ex-SVP of Ads at Google) and Vivek Raghunathan (ex-VP of Monetization at YouTube). Some things that I really like about their platform is that they give 20% of their topline revenue with content creator partners when their content is used to directly answer a Neeva customer’s query. This is great for newspapers and other content creators to get revenue back for content that a search engine like Google would normally have as a zero click result.

They just introduced a free (at least for 3 months) tier, and then it’s $4.99 per month.

As you are looking at marketing channels, consider that this model may become more popular as people prioritize their privacy over highly customized ads. I do like the idea of paying under $5 a month and knowing that my search results are not skewed by how much an advertiser spent. It also has a lot of privacy features which help keep other advertisers from being able to track.

As marketers, we may not love this, but it emphasises why we need to make sure to fully utilize all marketing channels and not rely on a single one. It also emphasizes how important SEO can be as well as creating top quality content.

Now I wanted to talk about browser plugins that you may not realize are affecting your numbers. The main ones are ad blocking plugins, and I wanted to focus on one in particular as it’s the most popular, but does one thing by default that may surprise you.

And that one thing – it blocks Google Analytics by default. There are over 10 million installed users actively blocking Google Analytics with this one plugin. It may not seem like a huge number, but depending on what vertical your users are in, you may be surprised with the percentage that use a plugin like this.

One thing I suggest doing is pull your Google Analytics data, and cross reference that with your Google Search Console click data and then against your server logs. You’ll have to take into consideration things like bots that GA doesn’t count, but this could give you an idea of the number of people visiting your site that don’t trigger Google Analytics.

So in summary, we’ve got millions of users blocking your tracking software, millions of users moving to new search engines which tout privacy first, and even search engines that have no ads. How are you planning for these numbers to grow in your marketing. What moves are you making to measure impact of your marketing efforts that don’t involve digital online tracking? I’ll be talking about privacy updates and impacts as part of marketing regularly, so keep listening.

Thanks again, and I’m working on putting together a recap of last week’s SEO office hours with John Mueller where I did pose a question. I’ll get into that and a also a question I asked once the recording was stopped.

Until tomorrow, I’m the opinionated SEO.