Google GOES DARK….

Well, the day many SEO professionals and web site owners hoped would never come, apparently did yesterday. It looks like Google has cut off keyword data altogether for SEO analysis.

You’re probably asking “What?” and “Why?”.

Let’s start with the “What”…

What is keyword data? Keyword data tells us what search term someone uses to find you. So, for example, if I do a search for “hvac companies dallas” and find your web site, Google records it and feeds that data into your Google analytics account.

When you then login to see the search metrics for the past 30 days, you’d see 1 visitor (me, for example) who found your web site by using the search term “hvac companies dallas”. This data, since analytics came on the scene many moons ago, allowed SEO professionals and web site owners to see exactly how people were finding them.

You knew exactly how many searches were being done for your selected keywords that you had been optimizing your site for. So, instead of just some bulk indicator such as “how many visits is my site getting”, you were able to see those “visits” broken down by specific keyword.

It was a match made in heaven.

Why, then, has Google decided to do this?

Two things. First, privacy. With all of the recent news and controversy about online privacy concerns, Google has decided to implement SSL encryption in their search feature. What this means is that, theoretically, the search terms you use when using Google are not being shared with Google Analytics (what we all use to analyze traffic data). This has been in the works for some time and they’ve gradually rolled this out.

Now, before you start anointing Google for Sainthood for doing this, let’s look at the OTHER reason that we believe they’ve done this. GREED….

The only way, now, to get specific keyword traffic data is by using their flagship marketing product, Google Adwords (imagine that…). Granted, this data is not the organic traffic data, but instead, if  you participate in their PPC program (pay per click), you get to see the full metrics of what traffic you received (paid for) to your web site. Nice of them…

There’s a lot of unhappy web professionals around today (including us). But, rather than scream about the sky falling, let’s talk about what we can do going forward…

1. Ranking data now becomes more important than ever. If you’re participating in an aggressive SEO/Content marketing plan, you want to see a progressive improvement in your rankings and overall organic traffic trends. Luckily, we can still track  your overall traffic to your site.

2. Sales/Lead tracking – It’s imperative that you put controls in place to screen new leads about how they found you (web forms, phone calls) and track as much of this data on your own as possible. Our SEO dashboard allows lead and sales tracking.

3. Set up a “retargeting only” PPC campaign. ‘Retargeting’ is literally re-targeting people; showing ads only to people who visit your website. They were interested in a product or service you have to offer–that’s why they visited your site in the first place. Your ads will appear on other publisher’s websites as a reminder to come back to your website. It’s an easy, simple, friendly, inexpensive way to get more customers who don’t convert when they first check out your website.

I guess when you are “THE GAME” like Google is, you can make the rules. Doesn’t make it any easier for any of us, however.

Information for AutoWeb Technologies Premium SEO Customers

For AutoWeb Technologies Premium SEO Customers, this will impact your dashboard analytics in two ways:

1. Our current non-branded traffic graph will no longer be meaningful.

2. The keyword tab that shows traffic by keyword will not have much data (we still get data from Bing / Yahoo).