Home  › Search › SEO
Lost

Google & Not Provided Keywords: Forcing Marketers to Innovate Since 2013

  |  October 16, 2013   |  Comments

Marketers will not completely lose the ability to see which keywords drive traffic, but the information now has to come from different sources and via different paths. Is it a curse or an opportunity to innovate and improve?

LostThe recent announcement that Google will encrypt all keyword referral data has created quite a stir in search marketing circles. Many folks find themselves faced with the challenge and asking the question, "How will SEOs optimize to keywords, if they can't see the keyword data?"

The expectation is that by December, organic keyword data from Google will be nonexistent. However, many have seen lost close to 100 percent already! Marketers will not completely lose the ability to understand what words send visits to which pages, but the information now has to come from different sources and via different paths. Indeed, many have already offered workarounds and alternate data sources.

Additionally, many marketers will have to give some serious thought to how they measure the success of their content and strategies.

PPC Becomes Critical to SEO

One readily available source of keyword level conversion rate data is your PPC program; with Google, this is their Adwords platform. For years, savvy marketers have utilized historical keyword traffic and conversions data from paid campaigns to co-inform decisions in the organic realm. Now, the synergies between paid and organic search are even more critical.

It's tempting to say that part of the motivation for this encryption is primarily to drive more marketers to increase PPC efforts. Whether that is true or not is really not important at this stage, if you're already doing a reasonable amount of PPC. The reality is the Adwords platform is a viable source for data that is constructive for SEO.

Google's Webmaster Tools

There are two useful tools for extracting keyword data within Google Webmaster Tools as well:

  • The Search Queries report shows us what keywords drove clicks to the site. Additionally, it provides data on what pages surfaced by keyword in Google's SERPs through impressions, whether the page won a click or not. 
  • Average position of the Page is the other useful tool to consider. This reports the average top position of a site on the search results page for a given query. It also displays the change compared to the previous period.

So what does the Search Queries report provide? Ultimately, it is a list of top pages that earn impressions and clicks targeted at specific key search terms that rank. Furthermore, the ranks for those pages have the potential to improve. Sound familiar?

Not Provided... an Opportunity?

ClickZ columnist Andrew Beckman points to traffic estimations based on logged-in activity within Google and possibly even Bing networks as potential data resources for future marketers. iProspect's Josh Bledsoe points to alternative search engines and destination URL metrics as potential sources for elusive keyword data. Scott Kellam suggests you focus on content themes and leverage your existing data to survive the encrypted keyword debacle.

To some degree though, this shift in keyword data forces search marketers to focus their attention away from the keyword performance and more onto the quality of their pages. The best search marketers have always done this and will continue to do so.

Examine additional page level metrics, such as conversion rates and bounce rates. Find those pages that are performing well, identify the pages that aren't and then start making honest assessments. For the pages that ‘work,' what qualities do they possess? Are those qualities that the underperforming pages lack? Test, assess and retest until those underperforming pages produce quality results, then move on to other troubled areas within your site.

In the end, there's no denying the Google secure search news is certainly going to change how many search marketers think at a fundamental level. But for the savvy content marketers and SEOs who have been working at page level optimizations, the only major change is the path to the baseline data. So, what do you think will be the next shoe to drop?

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Crispin Sheridan

Crispin Sheridan is the Senior Director, Global Search at SAP. As part of the digital team, he established and leads the search and testing practices at SAP. Crispin is responsible for paid, natural, and mobile search and all online testing. Search and testing at SAP are fully centralized and globally funded and run under a hybrid in-house and agency model.

Crispin has proven that search learnings and keyword insights work hand in hand with social media marketing and together can effectively drive B2B lead generation. Furthermore, the development of the SAP.com Test Lab has contributed significant success to SAP's digital marketing efforts.

A frequent guest speaker at conferences, including SES New York, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Delhi, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, Crispin was appointed to the SES Advisory Board in December 2009. He has also been a guest speaker at the e-Metrics Summit and ad:Tech, and is a member of Google's B2B Technology Council. You can follow him on Twitter at @crispinsheridan and read his monthly SEO column on ClickZ.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Search newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?

Jobs

    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...