When Google announced keywords will no longer be available in organic search analytics the SEO world freaked out and rightly so.
Google Not Provided
For over 10 years now SEO consultants like myself have relied on keyword referrals in organic search reports to show clients how well our campaign is doing. Now we don't get that convenience anymore.
Couple that with the fact that SEO rankings mean less and less every year for the past 4 years and suddenly SEO consultants and agencies are scrambling to find better reporting methods and metrics.
So now that you've lost your organic search keyword data from Google, what do you do? Well there's still plenty of work arounds:
Sort your content in organic search by a metric like visits or better yet conversion rate. Study those higher traffic or converting pages to determine what made your content so successful.
Look at the title tag, the headings, content, shares and inbound links to those top performing pages and see what's causing them to perform so well in organic search. Rinse, repeat.
What the hell is Bing? Oh yeah, microsoft's search thingy. Unlike Google, Bing still provides keyword referral data in analytics software. This is worth noting because Bing's total search market share is around 30% including their acquired Yahoo! index.
Just take the search traffic for your keywords from Bing and divide by 0.30.
You can still get keyword data from Google AdWords and they'll probably continue showing that data indefinitely since that's what you're bidding on. Simply run AdWords campaigns for your top performing keywords before the (not provided) crisis occurred.
Use performance metrics such as CTR and better yet conversion rates to determine which keywords you should at least try to rank for.
You'll reach a point of diminishing returns with this method and as time progresses your historical data will fade into inaccuracy. For the time being though, look at keywords that performed well for you over the past month or so before the (not provided) crisis.
Odds are people will still be searching many of your historically driver keywords for a while longer.
Just as we're about to throw the rankings out with the bath water Google makes a change like this and forces us to depend on rankings a little more.
If you're ranking for a certain set of keywords and you're getting organic search traffic, odds are you're getting traffic from some of your keywords more so on a long-tail basis.
Rand covered some of these in his recent article on the first real threat to SEO.
My favorite thing about the (not provided) crisis is it forces us to look at the bigger picture which has been beckoned at by the Inbound Marketing standard-bearers of our age like HubSpot and Moz with 100k more to follow. We have to look at all the various parts such as social content sharing, email marketing, usability, conversion rates, ad revenue, investments in content, link building and more.
My second favorite thing about this new change is it takes the SEO competition, the folks who can't or don't want to keep up and places a gulf between them and us. We understand that if anything SEO is as powerful today as it's ever been. It's more difficult to do now but that means higher fees, more effective campaigns in comparison to top competition, and better focus on key metrics as opposed to just rankings and traffic.
Now we ultimately have to answer the questions of organic search ROI and not try to bullshit our clients with huge keyword reports.
What do you think about Google (not provided) and do you have any SEO tips to add to this list?