Third-party cookie tracking is disappearing, and the SEO industry is

Prepared and prepared

Tweeting memes and being ambivalent

Since its inception, SEO has dealt with the issue of cookie tracking.

Does the cookie’s death really matter?

My friends, I have two things to share with you.

The good news is this change signifies something and there’s a chance.

The bad news is it’s and not going easy.

It takes some skill to do it, and considerable resources that you are not likely to have sitting in the SEO corner of your office (remote).

What is the situation?

Legislations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Acts (CCPA) tighten restrictions on how advertisers can track users.

I believe the claim behind this initiative, that consumers want more control over their data, is partially valid but not overwhelming.

Most users don’t notice or care about the tracking they do have. Unless they are trying to hide something, it isn’t a concern that makes them change their online behavior.

We would all prefer clarity and limits on the advertising company’s ability to track us and how they target our interests. However, I have found that we tend to leave it at that.

It is not something that the average user thinks about, especially as it becomes more technical and specialized by the year.

These privacy restrictions are coming, and they’re a good idea.

Have you noticed the rise in auditory targeted ads and the content being delivered by Google?

You can try it at home.

Talk about a topic that is not obvious but you are interested in. Repeat the keyword(s), a few times.

It’s likely to be found in your news feed, ads, search results, and even in “recommended” places.

Freaky? Yeah, kinda…

It’s probably a good thing that we have legislation setting limits, even if they are limited at this stage.

It’s not a new trend. This focus on cookies has been going on for years.

Firefox, for example, began blocking third-party cookies in 2019! Safari followed suit in 2020.

Timeline: Tracking Restrictions 2018-2023

SEO must keep up with the trend towards a cookieless future.

We must be given a place at the table, especially in the measurement of channel effectiveness,attribution and yes, even incrementality. ).

This is a large word and difficult keyword to use in SEO.

Historical measurement models

Analytics toolkits will gradually phase out traditional measurement models that use cookies, such as multitouch attribution (MTA), which leverage cookies.

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

MMM is a top down approach that covers many years of data. MTA, on the other hand, is more granular and relies on cookies to track sessions as well as users.

Cookies have their problems. They don’t measure cross-device and, more recently, they are opt-in only.

Marketers still need to measure their performance. Cookies are a great tool for this.

Next-level ideas to track SEO

Consider how SEO will be affected by a cookieless future. Follow the example of other measurement channels: Create a clean room.

A clean room will probably not be constructed specifically for SEO. It doesn’t necessarily have to be, since SEO doesn’t have first-party information.

This is where SEO’s relative importance to other channels becomes clear. It will not lead to an investment of resources within an organization. It is not enough.

You can also leverage the work of others in paid media to get some interesting measurement tools for SEO.

Aggregated attribution

This approach does not use individual data but rather a high-frequency metric (i.e. organic search sessions) and examines how other media, i.e. TV spots, impact the channel.

This analysis gives insight into how SEO captures the demand generated by a TV ad or offline campaign.

Modified media mix modeling

You shouldn’t force organic clicks into media mixture modeling (MMM). This is a misuse of the metric.

The paid media team would not agree, and the organization could be distracted and possibly stuck in arguments about attribution.

Instead, we can use the MMM to remove all media-driven sales. To find the signal of SEO in the base, we can run SEO clicks on the base sales.

We can also consider running a model that compares paid media impressions with SEO clicks to understand media interaction.

This is similar to the aggregated approach to attribution, but more granular.

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Additional considerations

We must balance the reality of how much SEO teams are willing and able to invest relative to other channels.

Media is seeing a lot of money, which drives innovation in media mix modeling and attribution.

SEO is no different. However, we must find ways to measure SEO’s effectiveness. It must be sophisticated and in line with other channels’ approaches.

No more relying on third-party Semrush charts. Except in cases where we are looking at competitive insights.

It is possible that existing MMM solutions have sufficient insights that include earned and owned observations. This avoids what analytics teams call “collinearity,” which is the phenomenon where insights are distorted from data sets that depend on each other (i.e. linear) when they are sliced and diced.

A second consideration is that some teams may not have the budget or need to do complex modeling like MMM. These cases may be handled by Google Analytics 4 or Adobe. This can be supplemented with some SEO testing.


All of this is easy, but not easy.

SEO is a channel that is often second to media, whether it’s paid search, display, or paid social.

Yes, companies invest in and care about SEO.

However, once everything else has been accounted for, media dollars will always be the most important in any measurement conversation.

SEO is the one who loses the most when it comes to the resources of the analytics and data science departments.

It doesn’t have be.

It is crucial to get SEO data sets into clean rooms and align them with other data sources in order to gain insights into the channel.

SEO teams must get site analytics data into clean rooms like Google Ads Data Hub (ADH), as digital marketers shift to using them.

SEOs can use the data to examine customer journeys across paid and click media impressions, clicks, and site activity (including a tag source as an organic search) by bringing together the data.

Marketers can use this new environment to measure the contribution of each SEO channel and its relationship to other channels.

But there is a catch. It’s difficult because it requires others to buy-in.

There is already enough attention and resources to be focused on the transition away from cookies towards clean rooms and more trackable options.

This means that resources aren’t waiting (usually) to accommodate SEO. Most marketers won’t be interested in ranking SEO priorities higher than media, especially when it is related to channel performance measurement and attribution.

This is exactly what we need to be SEOs more than ever: good Performance Tracking.

We need SEO’s contribution and yes, incremental additions to the cross-channel picture.

This is what SEOs do: navigate resources and teams, generate buy-in from the right people to prioritize this work, and then do it successfully.

This will allow you to communicate SEO’s value to your business and make it clearer for everyone.

Search Engine Land’s first article was “SEO and the Future World Without Cookies”