Many business owners and SEOs have begun to notice a shift in Google’s analytics keyword reporting, but unfortunately, it’s only just beginning. Many keywords are beginning to show as ‘not available’ due to Google’s secure search blocking the bots that collect the data. Keyword data, or the exact keyword that shows how a visitor found your site, is used by many people for optimizing and finding keywords that work, and even for turning the best keywords into PPC campaigns. Unfortunately for marketers and business owners everywhere, that is about to change, because Google isn’t planning on integrating any other options. How does Google’s vanishing keyword data affect your Seattle SEO? Keep reading to find out.
Over the past year, most people who use Google Analytics have noticed that more and more keywords were vanishing. These keywords typically show up as ‘not available’ rather than listing the searched keyword, meaning that users cannot turn the data into campaigns or optimized pages. While Matt Cutts claimed that the new secure search would not affect more than ‘single digits’ of search results in 2011,studies now show that some niches are affected a great deal more. In fact, BrightEdge recently released a study on Search Engine Watch detailing that the highest affected industry (Technology) was affected 56%. Essentially, more than half of the keywords in that sector show up as not available.
One website we used to test this theory received 3,125 search hits during the test period. Of those hits, 1,900 of them were ‘keyword not provided’. Another website, in the SEO sector, literally did not have any keyword data, with every hit showing up as ‘not provided’. The last website tested received a modest 500, with 62% via search, but 199 of those keywords are ‘unavailable’ meaning that some 60% of searched keywords aren’t showing up.
What it Means for Seattle SEO
While not seeing your keyword data is going to have some impact on your campaigns, you can minimize the effect by paying attention to your URL hits and what keywords you utilized for those URL’s. The biggest impact that the vanishing keyword data has on small businesses is that Google is no longer a reliable tool for finding your star keywords. While there are ways around anonymous search data, you should probably start thinking around your keywords, not trying to dig them back up. SEO experts around the globe agree that keywords are becoming less and less important for most SEO, although it still holds a big placeholder in PPC and other marketing campaigns.
Adjusting your campaigns to focus on business impact including revenue, conversion, and traffic, is more likely to hold as a stable long term marketing campaign for Google’s future policies. While keywords aren’t dead, they are playing a much smaller part in future SEO.
While secure search is reducing the amount of keyword data available, it is also forcing more business owners to think in terms of long term results, rather than the short term of optimizing a page for keywords. All in all, it’s a big change, but it could be a good one for the future of Seattle SEO.