How GDPR affects conversions for European based websites

GDPR is, for those of you who don’t know it already, the Global Data Protection Regulation – the European Union regulation for protecting the personal data of the European citizens.

Generalities about GDPR

GDPR is a regulation meant exclusively for protecting personal data of the European Union citizens. This means you don’t have to comply with this regulation if you process the data of the companies, for example, or if you process the personal data of other citizens than the European ones.

On the other hand, if you process the personal data of the European citizens, it doesn’t matter where your headquarters is located or if you are a E.U. entity or an American one – if you process the personal data of the EU citizens, you have to comply with this regulation.

The GDPR entered into force on the 25th of May 2018 so starting from that day all the entities involved have to comply with this new regulation.

How does GDPR affects the online businesses?

If you have an online business, you have to implement GDPR provisions on your website, on your selling platform, on your social network or whatever you own or manage in the online environment. We’ll not enter into details, but we’ll explain plain and simple so everyone understands what GDPR is all about.

First of all, you have the obligation of informing the online users which access your website or your online platform that you are processing personal data, and by personal data the European Union law makers understand anything, starting with the cookies which tools like Google Analytics or Hotjar are using in order to offer you the metrics necessary to measure the performance of your website. Under the GDPR provisions, the IP or the location of a certain user are considered “personal data” which make that user “identifiable”.

If an online user is identifiable, than you have to display the information, in a unequivocal form, directly on the landing page – We use cookies to collect your personal data!, offering the user the possibility to continue the navigation, to exit the website or to disable specific cookies. In other words, the admin of the website must offer the user both the information (that the website is using cookies, what type of cookies and what is the purpose of collecting them) and the possibility of disabling the cookies for that visit.

Complicated? At first glance, it is, but once you set up everything correctly, you don’t have to worry.

How does GDPR affects conversions?

It is beyond any doubt – GDPR affects conversions in a negative way and this is logical – if one tries to enter a certain website and first thing one sees on the landing page is the message “We use cookies to collect your personal data”, first thought is to exit that specific website. No one wants his or her personal data to be processed, isn’t it?

Those exits are counted by Google as bounces and every SEO master knows that time spent on the page weighs tons for Google in terms of page authority. The problem is Google algorithm doesn’t know about GDPR and we haven’t seen yet any official communication from Google regarding the integration of this new element into its algorithm: how can Google separate those who bounce from a page because they didn’t find what they were looking for from those who bounce from a page because they didn’t want their personal data to be collected and processed? It can’t.

Does GDPR affects the bounce rate? Of course it does!

Does bounce rate affects the position on Google? Of course it does!

Does the position on Google and the bounce rate altogether affects conversions? Of course they do!

For the first month after the implementation of GDPR in European Union, thousands of webmasters reported a drop in their traffic rate and consequently in their conversation rate.

What can we do to improve conversion rate in the GDPR era?

For the moment, what we have to do is wait – wait for the online users to get used to the message “We use cookies to collect and process your personal data”. This is a medium term process, but the more the message will be displayed on every website, the lesser reluctant will be users to access the websites which display this information. We are already experiencing an improvement from this point of view and we believe in the following months people will get used (and sick) of this message so it will be considered a normal step in accessing any given website.

In the future, we all must learn from our experience with GDPR implementation and all we have to do is optimizing the website for conversions as we did up to 25th of May, but this time taking into account the messages we have to display and the cookie policies online users have to agree with.

Our prediction – GDPR did affect conversion rates along with online traffic, but in the next months all has to get back to normal.

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