Now That The Organic Keyword Report Is Dead, What Can You Do?
In case you missed it, Google announced early last week that it is making all its searches secure. What this means is that the little value you previously received from your organic keyword analysis is essentially dead. As of this week, the share of secure searches for this website is at 75%, and I suspect by the end of the month it is going to be at or near 100%. But honestly, I stopped analyzing organic keywords a long time ago.
Two years ago when Google announced it was making its logged in user searches secure, businesses and SEO pros were up in arms. Why? The change threatened their ability to analyze organic keywords for targeting. While initially Google said it would only affect no more than 10% of searches, websites that I monitored surpassed 25% after just a few months. While meaningful keyword analysis was still possible, its value decreased as the share of secured Google searches increased. Reading the handwriting on the wall, I moved to alternative ways of measuring SEO and targeting. If your small business has relied on keyword analysis in measurement and targeting efforts, or if you are not doing any keyword analysis, then here are some new ideas to help you transition from this now outdated practice.
Landing Page Analysis
For some time now I have focused my SEO analysis on landing pages and another tool that I will discuss later. The landing page report holds much more value than organic keywords, especially as focus on quality and authoritative content has accelerated. The page that a visitor lands on gives you some insight into the keyword theme. While you will not know the exact keyword that brought a Google organic visitor to your website, you will be able to determine the general topic. Looking at the engagement from these pages will help you optimize content. Since all signals from Google are pointing towards quality content and authority, content optimization rather than keyword optimization is going to become the critical factor for organic success. The full securing of Google searches has only hastened the trend. So take some time and dig into your landing pages. Find out the topics, themes, length, style, etc. that drives traffic and engagement.
Google Webmaster Tools
I check Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) every week. GWT, along with the landing page report, are my primary sources for analyzing organic keywords. With GWT you can see which keywords and landing pages are ranking and where, impressions, clicks, how many pages are indexed, content keywords and more. For me, this has been an effective replacement for the organic keyword report. If you have not created a GWT account then do it. It’s free, no excuse. If you use Google Analytics for your web analytics then link GWT to your account. That way you have easy access to the GWT data in the same interface.
While Google says that securing searches is done solely to benefit users, it’s interesting that keyword data is still available in AdWords. Very interesting indeed. At any rate, AdWords can still give you keyword level data which can serve a valuable purpose. Analyzing the paid keywords will provide insights on keyword targeting that can be leveraged for SEO purposes. The whole thing is a little shady, but sometimes we just have to work with what we have, and if you have AdWords then use it.
Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is still a useful tool for identifying keywords to target for SEO content. While you will not be able to evaluate actual organic keyword performance, you can still research the keywords to target with great content. And once you create the content, you will have a small bucket of the keywords that likely brought the search traffic, and that is good enough (it will have to be). If you are not using Google Keyword Planner then I encourage you to check it out. (Tip: filter for exact searches for a more realistic estimate of monthly searches for each keyword)
Google Trends is another free tool I use quite often for different reasons. It serves a purpose in keyword targeting as it can highlight very useful trends for keyword analytics. While Keyword Planner can identify targets, Google Trends may shed light on whether there is future potential. For example, the search volume on geo-modified keywords is declining as users become trained on the changes in Google’s algorithm. Users are realizing that a search for ‘seafood restaurants’ from Miami will yield the same results as searching for ‘miami seafood restaurants’. Such trends can help you gain a future perspective that is often lacking when analyzing historical data.