Over the last few years, there has been a shift in the SEO world. It used to be that you could pop up a site, write some mediocre content, build some links, and rank for competitive keywords.
Since then, Google’s gotten much smarter as you’ve seen with their Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. They are now able to recognize crap and duplicate content and penalize sites for it. They are also able to detect unnatural link building and penalize sites for this as well.
As of recently, there has been a lot of news on how Google is shifting all keyword data to not provided. “Not provided” means that you won’t be able to see what keywords from organic search are driving traffic to your site when you log into Google Analytics (or any analytics tool).
Naturally, the question that comes to mind is “what should I do?”
Step #1: Stop worrying about Google
I’m not saying that you should ignore Google because it can indeed drive a lot of traffic. What I mean is you shouldn’t worry about the updates they are making.
If you have an awesome service or product, you’re producing great content, and you’re building legitimate and relevant links, you should do fine. Plus, if you aren’t ranking for all of your keywords, it doesn’t mean that you won’t do well as a business.
Just look at the screenshot above. If you search for the keyword “computer”, Apple doesn’t show up in the organic results (unless you live close to an Apple store and see them in the local listings).
Yes, Apple does paid advertising, but they outdo their competition even though they don’t rank for all of their keywords organically. Look at their stock. They are currently the largest company in the world based on market cap.
As I said, this doesn’t mean you should ignore Google, but you should stop worrying about every single change they make. If you focus on creating an awesome product or service and do whatever it takes to help your customers, you should do well.
Step #2: Create awesome content
Creating good content isn’t enough. Awesome content is what does well these days. Instead of spending your money on paying SEO firms to build or buy links, you should focus on creating awesome content as it will generate more social shares and natural links.
For example, we spent $28,200 creating 47 infographics at KISSmetrics. Those infographics have generated us 41,359 tweets; 20,859 likes; 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains; and 2,512,596 visitors.
If you hired a top-tier SEO agency to build you links manually and generate that kind of traffic, you would easily spend anywhere from $240,000 to $1,000,000.
Over 50% of our revenue comes from organic SEO at KISSmetrics, and we don’t even optimize for individual keywords. Sure, we could focus our SEO efforts optimizing for individual keywords, but we’ve found that spending our resources on improving the overall authority of our site, so we can rank higher for long tail keywords, provides a much higher ROI.
If you want to achieve similar results to what we have at KISSmetrics, follow the steps in these blog posts:
- Create popular infographics
- Learn how to write an awesome blog post
- Guest post on 3 blogs each week
- Create a detailed guide at least once a quarter
- Convert your blog readers through webinars
- Don’t forget to leverage social media
Step #3: Research new keywords
You look at your organic keyword data for the following three reasons:
- To see which keywords are generating traffic so you can focus on improving those rankings.
- To uncover new keyword opportunities.
- To track if the popularity of your brand is growing.
I am going to show you how to do all three of those things without relying on analytics data. When Google makes all organic search data “not provided”, you’ll still be able to improve your overall SEO traffic.
Track your rankings
To see which keywords are generating traffic, the first thing you should do is start tracking your rankings. You can do so by using services like Moz. Go into your analytics and gather all of the keywords you currently rank for. Enter them into Moz as it will track the rankings.
If you have too many “not provided” results within your analytics accounts, you can also get this data from Google Webmaster Tools. Just log in, click on “search traffic”, and then click on “search queries”.
As you can see from the image above, Google will show you a list of keywords you rank for and your position. This data isn’t 100% accurate, but it is better than nothing. You can then take it, enter it into Moz and track your rankings all in one place.
Once you know what keywords you are ranking for, you can focus on improving your rankings by adjusting the on-page SEO for the web pages that are ranking. You can also adjust the content on those pages as well as build a few relevant authority links.
In addition to focusing on SEO elements, you should also focus on copywriting. Google Webmaster Tools shows you click-through rates (see image above), and by tweaking your title tag as well as your meta description you can increase that percentage.
To figure out where you rank and how to improve things, you have to look at your site from a page-level, instead of a site-wide, view.
The second reason you use keyword data is for keyword research. You then take the keyword data and create content around those topics as well as optimize pages around specific terms to boost your overall search traffic.
Even if Google goes with “not provided” for all your data, you can still uncover new keyword opportunities by using keyword research tools or spending money on AdWords.
Because I am cheap, I usually go the route of using a tool like SEMrush. All you have to do is enter in a competitor URL, and the tool will show you some of the keywords they are going after.
As you can see from the picture above, SEMrush can provide data on almost any keyword a site is going after. From organic keywords to paid, they do a good job of listing potential keyword opportunities.
If you want to use a free tool, you can check out Google’s Keyword Planner. All you have to do is enter a keyword, and the planner will spit out some other keywords you should look at as well as their search volume.
The beautiful part about Keyword Planner is that they will show you how much a keyword costs. Typically, the higher the cost per click, the more lucrative and high converting the keyword is.
If you want to see how your brand is doing, you can use Google Trends.
If you look at the image above, you’ll notice that the brand “dropbox” is still growing really fast. This means that everything they are doing from a brand building perspective is working well as their growth rate still seems to be rapidly increasing.
If you are a new business, you’ll have to give it some time before Google Trends populates some of this data, but eventually, you should see your brand terms on it.
I hope this blog post put you at ease about the “not provided” Google issues. The way I see it is that you shouldn’t stress over or worry about Google’s algorithm updates as it isn’t in your control.
All you can do is focus on creating a good product or service and continually improve your skills as a marketer.
Instead of worrying about this change, focus on all of the good that will come of it. Now that Google is doing this, more SEOs will have to expand their skill set and become well-rounded marketers.
So, what do you think about Google wanting to not provide organic search data?