We all remember the day in 2011 when the world of keyword-focused SEO came to a crashing halt. It was the day Google announced 10% of its organic traffic would be classified as “Not Provided.” The issue compounded in September 2013 when Google extended its privacy protection to people who use the search engine, regardless if they were logged into a Google account or not.
According to Jennifer Slegg of Search Engine Watch this meant, “When someone conducts a search on Google, it is now always done as an SSL encrypted search, so all search queries are now encrypted. It routes the click to the website through a redirect so that the website a user lands on has no idea what actual keywords the searcher found the website under and what keywords were used that brought the person there.”
So what is the world of SEO like after the Google’s privacy protection stance? There are a few options online marketers now have to measure which keywords are working and driving traffic from Google’s organic search and to optimize for them.
4 Simple steps to replace ”Not Provided” data
There are a few techniques you can use to get back some of your valued keyword information.
1. Look at non-Google keywords from other search engines.
As marketers, we all rely on Google as the ultimate search engine and it tends to dominate all of our online efforts. I mean, think about it, you really are who Google says you are. This might be true, however, don’t discredit other search engines such as Yahoo or Bing. They may not be driving as much traffic as Google is to your site, but they are driving some. By looking at the keyword data delivering traffic via these platforms you can get a pretty clear picture of which keywords are working and which ones are not.
2. Gain Keyword Insights from Google Search Console
It’s possible to get encrypted keyword data through Google Search Console by going to Search Traffic>Search Queries. There are some filters you can set up as well to help you determine if the traffic is coming from desktop or mobile. The only downfall is the data only goes back 90 days, so it would be a good idea to go in once a month and save the data in a .CSV file or download it to Google docs for future reference.
3. Analyze On-Site Searches
Another way of determining what keywords your potential customers are using is to keep track of the searches they’re doing on your site. Your internal site search data can then also be used for further keyword research around related terms. You cans validate search volumes and competition using Google Keyword Planner. As mentioned by Jennifer Slegg from Search Engine Watch, CrazyEgg has an amazing blog on this exact topic at http://blog.crazyegg.com/2013/01/17/set-up-internal-site-search-analytics/.
4. Use Search Volume Tools (Google Adwords)
Keyword Planner through Google Adwords is still a great tool if you need to find out how keywords rank and which new keywords to consider using. Keep in mind higher search volume is not always the best option to optimize your content. Start with keywords with 500-2,500 searches and lower competition. Remember, your keywords need to be specific and realistic to your products, services and audience. The competition for a particular keyword is also important in the evaluation process. If the keyword you want to use has a high competition, you’ll waste a considerable amount of time and resources trying to obtain a higher ranking. A better practice is to use a keyword with less competition enabling you to establish authority and rank higher in less time, thereby saving resources and money.
After you’ve found the keywords you believe will work best for your organization, leverage them within your content. Consumers are not just searching on single keywords; they are asking questions. Search engines will not only look at the specific keyword, but how it is used semantically and contextually within sentences.
Move from keywords to quality enriched content
Even though there are ways to retrieve some of your “Not Provided” data from Google, it’s not necessarily the best use of your time. SEO today is not all about the keywords in your content. It’s about the quality of your content and how relevant it is to your audience. The popular expression, ‘quality over quantity’ has never been as true as it is today in content marketing.
The days of stuffing your content full of keywords is long since past and now it’s all about relevancy and topical authority. Google doesn’t just look at the keywords or links in you content; it now takes author rank, personalization, and the knowledge graph into account. Who creates the content, what else they’ve done and who’s shared it all factor into its overall authority. Worry about the quality of your content and how it can benefit your audience and not as much about the individual keywords on the page.
Tips to help you create amazing quality-enriched content
- Start by researching and brainstorming content your audience will be interested in. Ask yourself, what are the questions and problems keeping our audience up at night? Once you’ve figured out your audiences’ “pain-points”, plan your content, then create it.
- Remember, you want to educate your audience, enrich their lives and give them a positive experience; where possible, even entertain them.
- After you’ve created your content masterpiece, promote it to the audience most likely to be interested in it.
- A great way to promote your content is to build relationships with people who have authority in the same area.
As much as keywords are an essential part of any content strategy, it’s the quality of the content which really matters. If you can create quality content to really helps solve problems for your customer and enrich their lives, you’ll be much further ahead in the eyes of Google. However, be sure to broaden your digital marketing efforts to appease more than just the team at Google. Measure your data in multiple search engines and use a web presence analytics platform to gain full insight into how your content is performing everywhere.