Today is the day that Google kills off its Autocomplete API. Sites that rely on the API will have to make major changes to their business models, or risk going down. It’s not only companies who’ll have to pivot, some content marketers themselves, will have to change they way they work, specifically the way they decide what ideas to write about.
Ubersuggest, Keyword.io, LongtailPro, and Keyword Canine are major sites used by content marketers, for keyword research as well as content ideation. Out of these four, Ubersuggest is the only to have come out with an explicit announcement about the changes, posting a resigned yet charming note on its homepage:
“Nobody knows what exactly will happen on August 10th, but to guarantee the availability of the service I already switched to another data provider (…what data provider? The other one).”
Are we going to finally start Binging things? Probably not, but with Bing being the closest to the market leader at around 20% market share, there’s no doubt of Ubersuggest’s new API partner. Keyword.io has already had Bing integration for quite some time, and their homepage shows no news of this announcement.
So are content marketers going to be affected by the death of this API? It depends what kind of marketer you are.
What kind of marketer are you?
Having worked with hundreds of marketers here at Oz, I’ve noticed a divide between two different types of content marketers, some come from a more journalistic background while others come from an SEO background. The differences in how they create content are big enough that they’re going to be affected differently by Google’s news.
1. Journalist Content Marketers
Many of these content marketers have journalist or literary backgrounds. Though they do have some technical expertise in SEO optimization, they are much more likely to choose an idea based on trends, research, and manual insight rather than through a keyword planner tool.
Use of keyword planner tools such as Ubersuggest are much lower in this group. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for these content marketers are more likely social shares (likes, faves, and tweets) or time spent on engagement, rather than organic search rank.
2. Arbitrage Content Marketers
Many of these content marketers have come out of a search/ SEO background, and prior to the Google Panda update in 2012, they were mostly engaged in the “content farm” approach heavily favored by companies such as Demand Media. Their method to content creation is highly methodical and often focused on high volumes of content output. This group tends to extensively research content ideas through keyword planner tools in order to rank well for keywords.
This type of content approach, while it often performs well on social as well, is geared toward getting lots of traffic from Google.
Journalist content marketers win the near term, as arbitrage content marketers will have more difficulty accessing data they had relied on to exploit underoptimized keywords in Google.
However, the intermediate effects are a little less clear. There are a couple of factors that might give the more data-savvy arbitrage marketer a leg up, such as alternate data sources as well as the emergence of predictive content analytics that will help determine how well content can perform. However, rather than these new types of tools being appropriate for either group, they should be seen as an approach that innovators in both groups can gain from.
Alternate Data Sources
Bing’s gains in the search engine market give the company a fair amount of data, and it is the likely second choice for the data-savvy content marketer.
Also, Quora provides a wealth of data that can be systematically mined to create the content that people search for. In addition, Google’s Autocomplete API is not completely dead. Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) will continue to support this API, which may mean a few enterprising content hackers could make an end-run around Google’s rules.
Growing ability to predict audience demand for certain types of content
Micro-Survey Tools like Typeform and Qualaroo are tools which have gained popularity recently, have the potential to predict demand in an even more robust way than Ubersuggest or Keyword.io.
As Sean Ellis pointed out:
“I think that probably people are getting better…. at being actually more scientific about how they create quality content. I think there’s a lot more testing and kind of analysis that you can do or even using something like Qualaroo to say, ‘What would you like us to write about?’, rather than sort of guessing what somebody wants content about.”
While the death of autocomplete certainly clouds the future of Ubersuggest as well as Keyword.io, for the rest of us, it’s just another test of our agility as we try and stay on top of the game.