SEO and the future world without cookies

SEO and the future world without cookies

Third-party cookie tracking is on the wane, and the SEO industry is ready and hard at work crafting ambivalent and posting memes on Twitter.

SEO has been dealing with the lack of tracking cookies since its existence.

So does the collapse of the cookie actually matter?

Well, my friends, I’m 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 steps and significant resources to complete, which you probably won’t get over there in the SEO corner of the office (remotely, 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 how advertisers can use it to track users.

I think the argument behind this initiative – that consumers want more control over their data – is partially valid, but not overwhelmingly so.

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

Most of us would prefer clarity and reasonable limits on what an advertiser can track and how they target us. But in general, I’ve found that let’s leave it at that.

The average user doesn’t think much about it, especially since it quickly becomes technical and specialized, more so every year.

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

For example, have you noticed the rise of audio-targeted ads and content provided to you by Google?

Try it some time at home.

Start talking about a random but specific topic and repeat key words a few times.

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

It is probably a good thing that we have legislation that sets some limits, but they are limited at this early stage.

Anyway, it’s not new. The focus on cookies has been going on for years.

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

As the transition to a cookie-free future grows stronger and creates greater restrictions on digital advertising, SEO needs to keep up.

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

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

Historical measurement models

Historical measurement models

Traditional measurement models that leverage cookies, such as multi-touch attribution (MTA), will be phased out of analytics toolkits.

The two main models marketers have used in the past are Media Mix Modeling (MMM) and MTA.

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

Cookie issues are also relevant. They fail to measure multiple devices, and lately they are opt-in only.

But marketers still need to measure performance. Cookies came in handy for this.

Next-level ideas for tracking SEO

Next-level ideas for tracking SEO

When thinking about how a cookie-free future affects SEO, follow the model that other measurement channels have already set: build a clean room.

The reality is that a clean room is unlikely to be built specifically for SEO. It doesn’t have to be this way – as SEO doesn’t have first person data anyway.

This is where the harsh reality of SEO versus other channels becomes apparent. Measurement will not lead to investment of resources in the organization. Not by itself, anyway.

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

Aggregated attribution

Instead of using individual data, this approach uses high-frequency metrics (i.e. organic search sessions) and examines how other media (i.e. TV spots) influence the channel.

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

Modified media mix modeling 

Trying to force organic clicks into media mix modeling (MMM) is a misuse of metrics due to the fact that you will change the results that are already being reported to the organization.

A paid media team would disagree, and the organization would be disrupted and could become mired in attribution wrangling.

Instead, we can take MMM and leave aside all the media-driven sales. We can then perform SEO clicks against the underlying sales to try to extract the SEO signal hidden in the database.

Additionally, we can consider using the Paid Media Impressions vs SEO Clicks model to understand media interaction.

This is similar to the aggregate allocation approach, but more granular.

Get the daily news search that marketers rely on.

Additional considerations

Additional considerations

We have to balance the reality of how much teams are willing to invest in tracking SEO performance against other channels.

Obviously, a lot of money is pouring into media, which is driving a lot of innovation in media mix modeling and the allocation of those channels.

The same cannot be said for SEO. However, we need to find ways to measure the effectiveness of SEO, which must be refined in line with today’s approaches of other channels.

Gone are the days of relying on some third-party Semrush charts, except when we might be looking at competitive insights.

It may be that existing MMM solutions already have relevant insights available that include both proprietary and acquired observations without risking what analytics groups call “collinearity,” the phenomenon of insights being skewed from data sets that are dependently correlated ( i.e. linear ) when sliced ​​and diced.

Another consideration is that teams simply don’t need or have the budget for complex modeling like MMM. In these cases, Google Analytics 4 and Adobe may do all that is needed at a basic level that can be upgraded with some SEO testing.


The answer to all this is simple, but difficult to implement.

SEO as a channel is known to play second fiddle to media – be it paid search, display or paid social.

Yes, companies invest in SEO and care about SEO.

All else being considered, however, media dollars will always take precedence in any measurement conversation.

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

Taking SEO data sets into clean spaces and aligning them with other data sources is critical to gaining channel insight.

As digital marketers move to use clean spaces like the Google Ads Data Hub (ADH) and others, SEO teams need to bring website analytics data into these environments.

By aggregating the data, SEOs can review customer journeys through paid media impressions, clicks, and website activity (including source tag as organic search).

In this new environment with SEO analytics data added to the clean room, marketers can also make the case for using attribution to measure the contribution and even incrementality of an SEO channel and its relationship with other channels.

But here is a difficult loop. The reason it is difficult is that generating buy-in from others is essential.

There is already enough focus and resources focused on this transition from cookies to clean spaces and more trackable solutions.

This means that the resources (usually) are not waiting for an SEO adjustment. And most marketers will have no interest in putting SEO priorities ahead of media, especially when it comes to things like attribution and measuring channel performance.

But that’s exactly what we need as SEOs more than ever: good performance tracking.

We especially need SEO input and yes, a gradual addition to the cross-channel picture.

Doing this successfully is part of the SEO world: navigating resources and teams along with creating the right teams approach to prioritize this work.

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

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

Adam Audette is Senior Vice President of SEO and Data Science at Blend360. Adam began his career in the early 2000s co-founding SEO agency AudetteMedia. For almost eight years, he was the global head of SEO for Merkle / Dentsu. He now works at Blend360, where he brings together 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.

In early 2020, Google announced its plans to remove third-party cookies for Google Chrome. Chrome is the most common browser with more than 63% of the global market share. Advertisers and publishers were concerned about whether Google would have a plan to replace Chrome’s cookie tracking technology.

What happens if I turn off all cookies?

4] Disabling cookies makes browsing the web less convenient. When you delete all cookie data, your web browser will not be able to remember your website settings. 5] If you disable or delete cookie information, you will delete your login information and suggestions. Therefore, you must enter the information again.

Should cookies be turned on or off? In fact, the only way to see cookies on your computer is through the web server that sent you the cookies. Because so many websites depend on cookies, I recommend that you leave cookies on in your browser. They don’t pose much of a security risk and can make your web browsing much more efficient.

Is blocking all cookies good?

And some privacy advocates recommend blocking cookies altogether so that websites can’t obtain personal information about you. Although deleting cookies from time to time can be useful, we recommend that you leave cookies enabled because blocking them results in an unpleasant and unsatisfactory online experience.

What happens if I clear all cookies?

When you use a browser like Chrome, it stores some information from websites in cache and cookies. Clearing them fixes certain issues, such as loading or formatting issues on websites.

What happens if I block all cookies?

Here are some examples of what happens if you block all cookies: You may not be able to log in to the website automatically because your saved username and password have been deleted. Some websites or features will not work. On websites, you may see a message asking you to allow cookies to be loaded.

What happens if I block all cookies in Safari?

Cookies and website data are deleted unless you visit and interact with tracker websites. Always block cookies: Select “Block all cookies”. Websites, third parties and advertisers cannot store cookies and other data on your Mac. This may prevent some websites from working properly.

Does removing cookies remove passwords?

If you clear cookies, websites will no longer remember you and you will need to log in again. You will still have your passwords in your profile manager if you saved them. Websites that remember you and log you in automatically are stored in a cookie.

Is it a good idea to remove all cookies?

If you are using a public computer, delete them and other data such as browsing history immediately after the session. If it is your personal device, it is a good idea to remove all cookies at least once a month to keep your device clean.

How do I delete cookies without losing passwords?

Therefore, to prevent the password from being deleted after clearing the cache, simply do not check the box in front of the “Passwords and other login information” field.

Does clearing browsing history delete passwords?

Advanced. The Advanced section includes basic types of data and the following: Download History: The list of files you’ve downloaded using Chrome is cleared, but the actual files are not removed from your computer. Passwords: Password records you have saved have been deleted.

Does deleting cookies also delete passwords?

When you delete cookies from your computer, you delete information stored in your browser, including your account passwords, website preferences, and settings.

Is it OK to turn off cookies?

You should definitely not accept cookies – and delete them if you accept them by mistake. Stale cookies. If the site page has been updated, the cached data in the cookies may conflict with the new site. This may cause problems the next time you try to load this page.

What happens if you turn off cookies?

Without cookies, you will be logged out of all your online accounts, which means you will have to re-enter your login information and reset your website settings. The ads and suggestions you see online may also be less relevant to you.

Are cookies actually necessary?

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

What does it mean to turn off cookies?

Disabling cookies will prevent advertising companies from tracking your web browsing behavior and personal information. However, this also means that some websites will not work properly and you may have to re-enter your passwords or adjust your preferences every time you visit the website.

Should you allow or block cookies?

Under Privacy & Security, click Content Settings, then Cookies. If you turned off cookies completely, you would disable all the features we’ve talked about so far, not just tracking. Therefore, it is recommended not to block them completely.

What percentage of users decline cookies?

Currently, 50% of Internet users have accepted or rejected cookies used for personalized advertising. 95% of these users expressed their consent, compared to an extremely low 5% who rejected cookies.

What percentage of people block cookies? Tracking cookies is difficult these days. Advertising company Flashtalking analyzed 20 advertisers worldwide in Q4 2017 and found that 64% of their tracking cookies were blocked or deleted by web browsers.

Does rejecting cookies do anything?

Accepting cookies will provide you with the best user experience on the website, but rejecting cookies may interfere with your use of the website. For example, online shopping. Cookies allow the website to keep track of all the products you have placed in your shopping cart while browsing.

Why you should reject cookies?

Although most cookies are completely safe, some can be used to track you without your consent. Even worse, legitimate cookies can sometimes be spied on if a criminal gains access.

Why do websites force you to accept cookies?

In a nutshell, this means that companies must obtain your express consent to collect your data. If a cookie can identify you through your device (which most cookies do), then companies need your consent. That’s why you see many websites asking for your permission before placing a cookie on your computer.

Should I reject all cookies?

Most cookies really aren’t a problem. They are used only by the website owner so that you have a better experience with the website. You can decline the “Accept Cookies†message and most websites will work perfectly. Of course, any personalization will not be available to you.

Can you refuse cookies?

Websites should now tell you what they use cookies for and get your consent to do so. Although most websites will set cookies by default, you should be able to refuse or withdraw your consent. However, in some countries you should be able to choose before cookies are set.

How many people accept cookies on websites?

During a survey conducted in the United States in June 2021, almost 32 percent agreed that they always accepted all cookies when they opened a website and were asked about cookies.

What percentage of websites use cookies?

Cookies are used by 41.4% of all websites. Persistent cookies are used by 23.5% of all websites.

Do most websites use cookies?

Almost all websites use cookies – small data files – to store information in people’s web browsers. Some websites contain hundreds of them.

Should I always decline cookies?

It is a good idea to refuse third-party cookies. If you do not opt ​​out, the Site may sell your browsing information to third parties. Sharing your personal information with third parties without giving you control over it can also leave you vulnerable.

Why do I have to accept cookies repeatedly?

Websites have become more focused on asking you to accept cookies. The reason reflects the Data Privacy Protection Act, which regulates online data tracking and transparency. This data privacy law is known as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in May 2018.

What does cookies do?

Cookies are small pieces of text that the website you visit sends to your browser. They help this site remember information about your visit, which can make it easier for you to return to the site and make the site more useful to you.

What are cookies on my computer?

Cookies are files created by websites you visit. They simplify your online experience by storing browsing information. Cookies allow websites to keep you logged in, remember your website preferences and provide you with locally relevant content.

What is cookie in SEO?

Cookies are small text files that are transferred from the server to the user’s device when the user accesses the website. These files usually have an expiration date and a randomly generated unique ID. This ID consists of numbers and is used to identify the user.

Do cookies help with SEO? Google and other search engines use cookies to remember search preferences and make ads more relevant to the user. If users reject cookies, ads will no longer be tailored to their interests.

What is a cookie and why is it used?

What are cookies? Cookies are text files containing small pieces of data â such as username and password â that are used to identify your computer when you use a computer network. Special cookies, known as HTTP cookies, are used to identify specific users and improve your web browsing experience.

What is a computer cookie and why are they used?

A cookie is information that a website stores on a user’s computer. Cookies store limited information from a web browser session on a particular website, which can then be retrieved in the future. Sometimes they are also called browser cookies, web cookies or internet cookies.

Why are cookies used for?

Cookies are small pieces of text that the website you visit sends to your browser. They help this site remember information about your visit, which can make it easier for you to return to the site and make the site more useful to you.

What is a cookie in web marketing?

Definition: Cookies (also called HTTP cookies or browser cookies) are small text files stored in the web user’s browser directory or data folder. E-commerce sites place cookies on visitors’ browsers to retain login credentials, identify customers, and provide a personalized shopping experience.

What are the 3 types of Web cookies?

There are three types of computer cookies: session, persistent and third-party cookies. All of these virtually invisible text files are very different. Each with its own task, these cookies are made to track, collect and store all the data that companies require.

What are cookies in marketing?

Marketers use cookies to determine the interests of their audience based on browsing activity, purchases and preferences. Cookies often provide a user-friendly user experience by remembering customer passwords and not deleting items in shopping carts when the customer leaves the web browser.

What are cookies in digital advertising?

Cookies are small pieces of code that are added to users’ web browsers when they visit various websites. The information they contain provides a more personalized user experience by remembering previous internet actions such as login details, location preferences, what’s in your cart and more.

What is a cookie on a web site?

Cookies are small pieces of text that the website you visit sends to your browser. They help this site remember information about your visit, which can make it easier for you to return to the site and make the site more useful to you.

What is cookies in search engine?

About cookies A cookie is a file containing an identifier (string of letters and numbers) that is sent by a web server to a web browser and stored by the browser. The identifier is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.

What does it mean using cookies?

Cookies are small files that websites send to your device and then use to monitor and remember certain information about you – for example, what’s in your shopping cart on an e-commerce site or your login information.

Should I accept cookies?

Do you HAVE to accept cookies? Most cookies really aren’t a problem. They are used only by the website owner so that you have a better experience with the website. You can decline the “Accept Cookies†message and most websites will work perfectly.

Does search engine use cookies?

They don’t. Search engine spiders are not designed to accept cookies or session IDs and act as browsers with this feature turned off. Unlike visitors with browsers that do not accept cookies, spiders can sometimes reach separate content because of webmasters who specifically want to let them through.

Can cookies be harmful?

Choose to delete all cookies or select a few. But are cookies bad? Although the cookie itself is not malicious software, there is a possibility that hackers can hack the data from the cookies and give them access to your browsing history. Clear your cache and allow only trusted websites to access cookie storage.

Which browsers block cookies?

In February, Firefox introduced Total Cookie Protection, which “ensures that no cookie can be used to track you from page to page as you browse the web.” This feature contains cookies for the website you are visiting and prevents it from being shared with another website.

What blocks all cookies? How to block cookies in Chrome

  • Open Google Chrome and click the menu icon (top right corner) and select Settings.
  • Now select Privacy & Security.
  • Click on Cookies and other website data.
  • Under ‘General settings’ you can select Block all cookies.

Can Chrome block cookies?

You can allow or block cookies stored by websites. By default, you can allow or block all cookies. You can also allow cookies from a specific site, but block third-party cookies from ads or images on this website. In the “Privacy and security” section, click Cookies and other website data.

Can browser block cookies?

Click “Tools” (the gear icon) on the browser toolbar. Select Internet Options. Click the Privacy tab, and then in the Settings section, move the slider to the top to block all cookies or to the bottom to allow all cookies, and then click OK.

Is blocking all cookies a good idea?

And some privacy advocates recommend blocking cookies altogether so that websites can’t obtain personal information about you. Although deleting cookies from time to time can be useful, we recommend that you leave cookies enabled because blocking them results in an unpleasant and unsatisfactory online experience.

Do all browsers support cookies?

Browser settings Most modern browsers support cookies and allow the user to disable them. The following are common options: Enable or disable cookies completely so that they are always accepted or always blocked.

What does it mean when your browser does not accept cookies?

You may not have cookies enabled. Cookies are pieces of data that help your browser remember things like usernames, passwords and website settings. All web browsers allow cookies by default, but most allow you to adjust your settings or disable them completely.

How do I know if my browser supports cookies?

Click “Tools” (the gear icon) on the browser toolbar. Select Internet Options. Click the Privacy tab, and then in the Settings section, move the slider to the top to block all cookies or to the bottom to allow all cookies, and then click OK.

Which browser does not use cookies?

In February, Firefox introduced Full Cookie Protection, which “ensures that no cookie can be used to track you from site to site as you browse the web.†This feature contains cookies for the site you visit and prevents aggregate use with another website.

Are cookies supported by all browsers?

Most browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Google Chrome, allow third-party cookies by default if the third-party website has a published compact privacy policy.