Saying Goodbye to Google’s Keyword Data

google keyword data
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Is SEO Dead?

That’s the question that Tim posed a month ago in this post here. This question came after industry veteran SEOmoz rebranded itself as simply “MOZ”. So, if one of the largest SEO consulting companies is moving away from the branding of SEO, then it has to be dead. Right?

Not necessarily. What we’ve seen in the past few months hasn’t exactly meant that SEO is completely dead; it’s just becoming increasingly more difficult for marketers to optimize for targeted keywords.

And, Google just made it even harder.

Change is inevitable
In 2011, Google started making a percentage of keyword searches “(not provided)” in keyword data reports by sending U.S. users who were signed into their Google accounts to an encrypted version of their search engine. While Google is likely still tracking that data and using it towards their algorithm, they no longer would provide this data and reported they were doing this as a means of protection for their users.

Earlier this year, Google added the Chrome browser searches to their list of “(not provided)” keyword searches. Now, a little more than two years after the initial launch of encrypted searches, Google is expanding their “extra protection” for all users of the popular search engine. Google is rolling out an update that switches all searches over to their encrypted version.

Does this come as a shock? No.

The percentages of keyword searches listed as “(not provided)” has increased steadily over the past two years and in some industries, nearly 75 percent of keywords are not provided (via MOZ).

Is the marketing community outraged anyway? Yeah, probably. Even Rand Fishkin of Moz said Google is abusing their monopolistic position in the U.S.

Where do we go from here?
Thankfully, the vast Internet marketing community has already introduced us to a few suggestions for ways to recreate the missing data.

First, as Rand pointed out in his whiteboard Tuesday, we can compare the search traffic of website pages against the current ranking of that page in Google. If the page is receiving traffic but not ranking well, then you can focus SEO efforts on the keywords that page is optimized for.

Second, we can still experiment for different keywords using Google’s AdWords campaigns. We will still receive the keyword search data related to paid advertising effort and can use this as a basis for an overall marketing strategy.

Lastly, don’t forget there’s always Yahoo and Bing that are still providing keyword search data. While Google does play a big role, they’re not the end all be all.

What are your thoughts on the latest change from Google? What changes do you plan to make to your strategies going forward?

Written by Staff at Radiate
on September 25, 2013