SEO in a post-keyword apocalypse world: how Google's big change can affect your business

google-grandma-memeBack in 2011, Google started to take steps to make searches more secure for users logged into Google, for privacy reasons, mostly. This past month, however, that search security was rolled out to all users, whether they were logged in or not. What does this mean? More privacy in your internet searching, but also: The Keyword Apocalypse!

Okay, that was probably a little dramatic… but we internet folks get hot and bothered when Google becomes even more mysterious. If you've been eyeballing your analytics program and noticing a lot more "not provided" data where previously your referred keywords had been, this is the effect in action. A post like this one will be almost impossible to write now. Previously, you could see that users were hitting your site for "robotic monkey saves orphan" but now you have far less information on what keywords are driving the monkey traffic.

Fear not. If you (or someone you employ) focuses on keyword research and optimizing based on your referral keywords, there are still ways to measure success and optimize content.

1. Focus on landing page data
If you've created a landing page or blog post directed at a specific keyword, the traffic you're seeing to that page is likely from that keyword. If you have a landing page for "budget wedding rings" and another for "antique wedding rings," set up some reports to track the traffic changes to each. Then experiment with the keywords on each page and see how it affects traffic. You won't be getting the specific referral keywords, but you can at least see how your optimized pages are performing based on keyword changes you make.

2. Focus on the keywords in your top content pages
Why are your top pages your best performing? Check out the keywords on those pages and see if you can capitalize on them to craft new landing pages based on similar keyword phrases. Then note changes that occur within your top pages to see how the keywords might be being affected.

3. Use the Google AdWords keyword planner tool
AdWords will still be tracking referral data on paid keywords. Make an AdWords account (if you don't already have one) and use the planner tool to help you estimate potential organic traffic drivers. It won't be perfect since it's focused solely on paid traffic, but it's better than going in completely blind.

4. Embrace simplicity in your traffic acquisition
If you've read Ariel's post on her "complex SEO strategy," you'll know that's it's completely feasible to make a business work by aiming to provide useful, shareable, and frequent content to your users without any shady dealings. It's the way Google wants us to do it, and this change backs up that intent dramatically.

For more nitty-gritty SEO info, check out our SEO tag archive for more help, and these related posts: