google ranking on a computer

A Wall Street Journal report published March 4, 2021, reveals that Google intends to completely phase out its reliance on tracking technologies for the purposes of ad targeting by 2022. 

Commonly, modern digital advertisers use methods to apply a unique identity to users and follow them as they browse, shop, and interact online. Cookies were once the primary technology used to assign users an identity and then track their actions, but the use of cookies has already begun to phase out. Instead of cookies, many companies were moving towards technologies that could identify users by shared logins, patterns in browsing, or even “device fingerprinting” that looks to unique device traits.


However, Google says that they will not rely on any form of technology to gather third-party data and track user movements. Instead, the technology company will use first-party data leveraged from its popular platforms. Considering the company owns Youtube, Google Search, Gmail, the Chrome Browser, Google Drive, and a host of other platforms with possibly billions of collective users, sourcing ad targeting from only first-party data is hardly a limitation for the tech giant.

As the biggest digital advertising company globally, this move could create major changes in the digital marketing space. By switching the focus from third-party tracking to behaviors on search and in Chrome browsers, the ability to attract visitors will become all the more important. Businesses — especially small businesses in competitive local markets — will have to pursue user visits and engagement through SEO to succeed.

Google Using First-Party Data for Ads Increases Importance of Search Results, Website Visits

Foregoing third-party user tracking may sound like a major limitation for a digital advertising company. Still, the truth is that Google has plenty of data to harvest from its “walled garden” of platforms. Basically, any tool that allows you to connect your Google Account (including Gmail and Youtube accounts) acts as a data source for the company.

Importantly, Google can leverage data from its own Google Search results and how users behave when looking at those results. The company already uses a complex formula comprised of over 200 factors to determine rank. This ranking system attempts to gauge user intent and provide the user with the most direct, factual information in response to their query.

The same approach could form the basis of how Google intends to target ads from 2022 onward. Various signals about the user, including their browser history and what they tend to click on, can be combined with factors about the advertiser, including what information they provide about their services. In other words, Google Ad placement could soon become more-similar to Google’s ranking formula, making SEO-type strategies all the more important.

Further, website visits and engagement with tools like Google My Business can serve as strong signals boosting a company’s visibility. For a modern business to survive in today’s fast-paced, information-rich world, they must be prepared to represent their brand online through optimized content. They must also consistently represent their services and business information by keeping accurate hours for when they are open to the public.

Simply put, the more information Google has available, the better it can use this information to decide whether to highlight your company to users.

What Sort of Practices Might Boost SEO and Local Digital Marketing?

How Google intends to replace third-party tracking technology remains a mystery, but it is at least somewhat transparent on what websites need to achieve in order to rank on Google Search results. Best practices to boost SEO and Local digital marketing performance include:

  • Developing an intuitive sitemap for your users
  • Optimizing content towards user intent, including specifying the geographic service range for your company
  • Building a consistent digital information trail online, especially through the use of Schema markup and Google My Business listings
  • Building out a broad library of content, which answers common user questions and provides them with guidance on how to solve their current problems or achieve their goals
  • Auditing website and content performance regularly, supplying information for new optimization changes and improvements

Businesses will likely still need a separate set of strategies when using the next generation of Google Ads. Still, our firm is willing to bet that SEO performance can be correlated with strong ad performance once the company shifts towards a first-party-data-only strategy.

For more information on how to boost your company’s visibility and online performance, contact JW Digital Marketing, and schedule a personalized audit and consultation today!