What Now: The End of SEO Keyword Data

Posted by Erin Payer on Sep 26, 2013 10:40:00 AM

The relationship between B2B marketers and keyword strategies has never been without complication. Shifting concentrations away from promotional, “marketing message”-laden collateral to helpful, end-audience centric content has been a struggle. Yet, progress has been made and investments in inbound strategies have increased. For most, the challenge is no longer buying into the concept that contextual content is king, but prioritizing and executing the kind of content that satisfies various business needs.

To ensure content development strategies focus on producing business results, many rely on keyword analysis tools to identify how end audiences search for related products/services and eventually find company information online. Google has led the charge in offering “free” data (via Google Keyword Tool, Google Analytics, Google Trends, etc.) insights into the words and phrases that result in relevant website visitors. In turn, we (as marketers) have willingly relinquished control of our online business intelligence to the search giant who has promised to “do no evil”.

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

In the process of building this symbiotic relationship some may say that marketing has come to rely on Google too much and that because we put all of our eggs in one basket we deserve the punishment of having our data taken away. And while they may be right, it does little to lessen the blow that is Google announcing that it will be hiding all organic search queries in 100% (not provided). Meaning no more attributing X amount traffic to Y organic keyword. No more analyzing user intent based on keyword entry and tailoring their web experience based on action. No more developing insightful content strategies based on organic keyword data.

Google Not Provided Grumpy Cat

How to Analyze Keywords in a Post 100% (not provided) World

The silver lining, if you can call it that, is that you can still uncover keyword data (albeit not with the same sophistication as with Analytics Advanced Segments) through AdWords. Even if you are not an advertiser the AdWords interface allows you to access the new Paid & Organic report by setting up an empty campaign. Additionally, Google Webmasters Top Search Queries report will soon provide a year’s worth of data so you can recoup some lost intelligence (but if you’re like most B2B’s much of this data will be branded keywords).

Other steps that you should consider implementing post 100% (not provided) include:

  • Setting up Google Webmasters Tools if it is not already configured to your site.

  • Focusing on understanding page-level (instead of keyword-level) data.

    Identify pages that are getting good traffic from organic search and analyze their ability to retain or convert those visitors. 

    Identify pages that are not getting good traffic from organic search and implement tactics to improve their ability to attract visitors from the engines. 

  • Continuing to monitor rankings and investing in SEO strategies that improve the indexability/crawlability of your website. Associate rankings with spikes/dips in organic traffic.

  • Investing in an AdWords campaign. Yes, this is what some (okay most) say is the reason behind Google hiding organic keyword data – to get more advertising dollars – but it doesn’t negate the fact that Google is still very much a viable channel for businesses to acquire customers (Google’s just not going to let you know what’s working and what’s not). The Keyword Detail report will enable you to compare the keywords you are bidding on versus the actual queries that people use prior to clicking your ad. This will unveil long tail opportunities for your content marketing strategies. 

  • Continuing to monitor Bing and Yahoo keyword data. These engines (for now) still pass along keyword referral information.

  • Updating your web content to be as relevant to the end user as possible. Think personalization on steroids. Rethink the purpose of every page of your site, analyze how users are accessing the information (by geography and device) and how effectively each page is contributing to your end goal of building your business.

What are your thoughts on Google's changes? How will this affect your content development and SEO strategies?

Topics: SEO; digital marketing

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