SEO Geeks Freak Out: Google Cuts Keyword Data

By Joe Cunningham, Internet Marketing Manager

Seemingly, since the beginning of time, Google has allowed geeks like me to see some really cool stuff on Google Analytics.

Imagine you could tell what keywords people used to find you on Google?  For instance, we are #1 for “Syracuse ad agency” and I always like to see when we get traffic from that.  It means something is going well and we are the #1 answer to that question: “Can you help me find the best ad agency in Syracuse, NY?”  (Google’s answer: “!”)

Well, that imagination has been a reality – until now.  Google just pulled the plug on source keyword data, sending SEO guys (and gals) into a royal funk!  [Insert explicatives that will never be published!]  Glad I got that out.

Translation for the rest of the world: you no longer will be able to know what search words people typed on Google to find your website.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal?  Well, it is.  [Insert sentence to make that clear.  Mind is blank.  Google did it.]

GeeksThe Good Old Days

I mean, it was so cool to get my daily report showing me who searched for what and found Cowley, along with any one of our clients I was keeping an eye on.  That’s how I found my blog post on “Google Analytics for Dummies” got #1 (read about it here).

Google had long kept their users safe (like me) by blocking website owners from seeing data from anyone logged into their Gmail account.  You would only then get a “percentage of the pie,” but you’d still get to eat most of it (man I love pie, I digress).  SEO experts just logically stated: use the other data that was not “not provided” and use that as the general statistic.  Chances are Gmail users were searching for the same sorts of things.

Now, they are taking away the pie.

All Google searches will be “http-s!” secure.  Just.  Like.  That.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Honestly, I was initially freaked out by the whole thing and felt my intelligence world was coming to somewhat of an end.  Not so.

Sources of traffic will still be visible to GA users, as will rankings (obviously).

What doesn’t change is SEO guys should just keep doing what they are doing: meaning, do the right thing that works.  White hat (good) SEO never hurt anybody – except your competitors (and that’s the idea, well, indirectly).

We will keep on blogging, social media-ing, and bowling for back links just as before.  And we will get better and increase in rankings!  Why?  Because we are doing it right.

Flying StraightMy personal theory is Google dropped the stealth net because it wanted to prove a point.  It wanted to continue to optimize its own algorithm for answering people’s questions: “How do I find....?”  “Where is the closest…?”  “Which is the best…?”  “How do you…?”  By eliminating data used by SEO geeks and some black hats, SEO campaigns are flying a little more blind and therefore have to fly straighter.

Even though Google is trying to show us the most relevant answer to our question, at the end of the day –and I reiterate this to those who think they will “just get found” [pulling my “I’m a geek I know” hair out right now] - the one who will be number one on Google is not always the one who is most relevant, but the most relevant one who did SEO the best.

Let those who have ears hear.


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