How to respond to Google no longer providing search keywords

In an effort to increase search user privacy, Google has turned off the tap – no longer are they providing search keyword information to website owners. Suddenly deprived of this powerful source of analytics, how should your business respond? We show you the real impact of this decision to remove search keywords and give you some strategies to make up the shortfall.

Don’t Panic

First of all, the sky isn’t falling, as many blogging and media pundits like to claim. While traditional keyword data won’t be available for user segmentation when coming from Google searches, there are still many other ways to get keyword data and measure trends.
More specifically, this is part of a greater move toward a more semantic and contextual web. Keyword optimisation is much less important than quality content, relevant links, endorsements and social media engagement. If you’re following a broader strategy of content marketing (as all online businesses should be) then the lack of direct search keywords isn’t going to impact you as much as you might think.

Non-Google keywords

You should never rely on analytics from just one search engine anyway, and there are still several well-used engines out there that will continue to provide keyword data. This may not last forever, but make use of it while it’s there.

AdWords

The AdWords system is still providing detailed keyword feedback, so make use of the system. Anything you previously had set up in AdWords will still provide the same keyword data, and this will be ongoing, as it’s part of the business setup and makes sense even from a privacy point of view.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools actually provide some keyword analysis, so if you haven’t already brought this great tool into your workflow then it’s definitely time to make the effort. You should make it a regular once-a-month task to log in to the Webmaster Tools and download your data, as it only goes back for a limited period of time (currently set to 90 days).

Internal analytics

If you aren’t already, start recording more information about both the internal searches on your site and the landing pages that people are arriving at. Both of these will give you a better idea of what your visitors are really looking for, and which parts of your sites are turning up in search results and actually bringing in traffic.

Search keyword trends

Real-time Google Analytics provide trending information, helping you identify the areas of your site that are bringing in traffic. There are several useful things you can do with this information.

Track your users from trending landing pages to see where they go next, what searches they make and where they spend their time. It might even be worthwhile to do some heat-map analysis on your trending pages to get a better idea of how your content and navigation are serving your visitors.

As you can see, there are still many ways to analyse your traffic and optimise your site. Focusing on landing pages, what users are doing once they reach your site and how well your content is being received are ultimately more beneficial than worrying about keywords. As time goes on, Google will be making more changes to their PageRank algorithm based on content quality, references and influence and social media engagement, so building a larger picture of your overall content marketing will ultimately be beneficial for your business in the long term.

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