How Google’s Move to 100% (Not Provided) Helps You Become a Much Better Marketer

seo not provided

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.

Why?

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.

apple computer

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:

Step #3: Research new keywords

You look at your organic keyword data for the following three reasons:

  1. To see which keywords are generating traffic so you can focus on improving those rankings.
  2. To uncover new keyword opportunities.
  3. 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”.

google webmaster tools

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.

Keyword research

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.

semrush

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.

google keyword planner

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.

Google Trends

If you want to see how your brand is doing, you can use Google Trends.

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.

Conclusion

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?

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Comments

  1. Nice overview of some updates about the industry. I agree that, regardless, epic content and guest posts are still the way to go in terms of proving your credibility and optimizing for SEO.

    These days, infographics and other visuals are doing very well.

    • Eddie, glad you found the post helpful. Quality content is always going to be king. Right now the medium, as you mentioned, is the promotion of info graphics and other visuals (primarily video). Thanks for reading and providing great feedback. I look forward to hearing more from you!

  2. Hey Neil,

    Few months back I read your blog post (I can’t recall the headline), where you said “creating 2,500+ words articles” helps you get your articles on top of Google.

    I experimented it on couple of my blog posts (here is just one example: Ultimate guide to creating epic content) and it is ranking really well for so many keywords. It also bought me highest number of shares, tweets and comments. It’s still bringing me quality traffic.

    Since then I decided to experiment what you’ve to say (and offer!).

    Great insights in the post Neil.

    And researching “own keywords” works for sure (I’ve already done it few times). Thanks for publishing the post :)

    Cheers,
    Rahul Kuntala

    • Rahul, glad you found such great success with the strategy. I think focusing on quality content that provides value to your readers is vital. It will help out your bottom line and improve your search rankings. Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  3. Well penned, and interesting data on the infographics (I wish more clients were willing to go that route). For me 100% not provided doesn’t scare or confuse me… however some of our clients with (50k+ keywords) live and die by those stats and WMT only shows 5k key phrases. Good positive post though, thanks!

    • David, glad you found the post helpful. I think people should really continue to focus on quality content (infographics, videos, new media). It will prove helpful when they see their search rankings skyrocket.

  4. Seems Google+ and Google Authorship and (one day) Author Rank along with great content will determine if your article or video or deck show up on page 1 of page 101 in an organic search.

    The semantic web, personal branding and Rich Snippets and your social authority (and trust) all seem to be pointing to the same end.

    Create content that meets your audience info needs and make your content social friendly (shareable) and you’ll be good to go.

    • You are 100% spot on. If we all follow the guidelines and how Google is valuing content we can definitely ensure that our content shows up first in SERPs. Thanks for the great feedback!

  5. It is a great introduction what to do and how to approach to website optimisation. There are a lot to consider integrating and you can take this article as a very good starting point. Great job.Thanks for sharing

  6. hi Neil

    I understand your tips and suggestions, but the little affiliate marketer cannot afford thousands for info graphics or premium content … I feel like Google is doing a disservice hiding keywords from their stats

    How many days until they’ll make all keyword research tools and keyword ranking obsolete?

    • John, you bring up a good point and I understand your concerns. However, if you start off small and have a valuable service or product you can definitely get to the point where you can scale to afford infographics and other media. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you need any help :)

  7. I agree with you on almost everything on this Neil. I still think being able to track performance on a keyword level was important to developing strategies. It gives you a peek at your buyers intentions and how they discover your brand, products and services. If I could see:

    Keyword 1 was generating $1,000 in revenue
    Keyword 2 was generating $2,000 in revenue
    Keyword 3 was generating $600 in revenue

    and my product page was optimized for keyword 3 which uses completely different words because that’s what the company calls the product internally. I’ve worked with many companies that call their products or services something different internally than how their customer might be looking for it. Having that keyword data really helps make a difference.

    Some industries can get away not needing a keyword level of tracking, but there are many businesses that can still greatly benefit from it.

    Great article Neil, Just my input.

    • Lyman, I am very glad that you have provided this thorough breakdown of keywords. There are a ton of industries that would benefit from the insights you have provided in this comment. Actionable data is important for businesses that rely on keyword level tracking that is very precise and data oriented. I look forward to hearing more from you. This was great!

  8. Nice update. Means Google tools are becoming less and less helpful for SEO firms. May I pose a question here?

    The top websites are Google itself and Facebook. Have you seen these two websites do SEO? The answer should guide you to know what to do in your online venture.

    • Brian, great question. Google & Facebook do not need to invest as much into SEO because they generate traffic without having to rely on search. Google writes the algorithms and utilizes it’s own search engine. Whereas, facebook is a site that people bookmark, have apps for and basically cannot resist.

  9. There’s always a solution! I like the overarching tone of this article because it touches on the point that internet marketing is a realm that will always be changing. It’s part of our job as professionals & entrepreneurs to stay on top of these latest trends and think of creative solutions to these challenges.

    Your resourcefulness goes a long way. Thanks for doing some of the thinking for us, Neil!

    • Patrick, you are spot on. That was my main aim when writing this article. I wanted to highlight that an adaptive strategy is essential in this day and age of search marketing.

  10. What I see here is things will continue to change, as for Google this is on going process on keywords encrypting.

    What i real think we should focus with, is to write or do for you’re readers, I mean providing quality.

    Adding from Rahul Kuntala’s comments, what neil advice is provide value.

  11. This post should be re-titles as How Google’s Move to 100% (Not Provided) Helps you become a much better Search Engine Marketer because that is what they are pushing businesses to.

    As we’ve already suggested before picking and targeting a keyword always spend some money through paid ads to see if it is converting and as not provided ration reaches 100% marketers would be forced to test and then target keywords.

    • Salmaan, that would also be a great title. However, I wanted to incorporate many other aspects (aside from SEO). As the landscape changes SEO will need to be supplemented with other marketing channels.

  12. Neil,

    Always a big fan of your content. Forgot to thank you for mentioning me in one of your link building posts recently.

    I can’t help but disagree with a lot of the posts on this topic though. It is a real shame that this has happened. I understand why people are putting some kind of spin on the news and blogging about it, but we are going to be (and are already…around 70% I believe) losing valuable data here; there’s no question about that.

    The key change I think is that – especially if you’re offering SEO as a service – is to build a better relationship with your client and look at new metrics to focus on.

    No longer can I adequately say “Here’s how much your rankings increased AND here’s how much more traffic that is getting you.” I can estimate, but the figures aren’t hugely accurate.

    This is a huge blow, no matter how beneficial some people may make these changes out to be.

    Then again, we’re not necessarily losing data we should have been entitled to in the first place…

    • Glen, thanks for reading. I really appreciate all this great feedback. As I mentioned in the other comment you bring up some great points, however, I just wanted to highlight how an adaptive strategy is what is most important nowadays. Client relationships will always be key in any industry. I think a lot of SEOs need to step that up and be more transparent as these new changes have completely changed the landscape of SEO.

  13. Have to disagree there. SEO is still a hugely lucrative source of traffic that puts food on the table for tens of thousands if not hundreds / millions of small businesses around the world.

    Google and Facebook aren’t really the best examples to use to suggest otherwise…

  14. Are there any services you would suggest for outsourcing the content writing when getting started?

    We would like to ensure the consistency and publish content regularly.

  15. I am of the firm opinion too that worrying about short term SEO gains may very well mean not having a sustainable site in the long run. Or rather updating as regularly as the Google algorithm updates and that can’t be too viable. Although the new semantic web style of Google’s new update may change the way Google indexes and responds to queries, the fact of the matter is that it is still a query based system, and so long as your meta tags are relevant to your service offering , and the content is useful to the consumer, roi will follow. :) Correct me if I’m wrong though.

    • Samudra, you are spot on. It’s tough to keep up to date with all the changes that are being made. I think that’s why it’s important to product quality content and do all the right things when building out your website. I am very curious to see how things change in the coming year and how people adapt. Thanks for the great feedback :)

  16. I agree about the importance of focusing on quality content over worrying too much about Google rankings and algorithm changes.

    When you create top quality content that delivers genuine value, answers questions and solves problems then you can simply get that content syndicated to existing high traffic websites, email newsletters, and even offline publications and get tons of targeted traffic coming in from those existing sources without the use of a search engine at any point during that process!

    • Adam, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s all about doing all the right things with content to ensure your rankings go up accordingly. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing more from you. Please let me know if you need any help with anything.

  17. Hello Neil,

    Last week we had a skype call on SEO and analytics, which was super amazing. I’m following the steps which you have asked me to follow in the call, and I’m glad they are working amazingly. I was seriously bothered when Google announced of not providing 100% keywords, but soon recognized a lot more ways to achieve success without that.

    I started writing quality articles on my site, and I’m already seeing the results. I wanted to ask you about Google Hummingbird Algorithm but totally forgot about it.

    And looking at the above blog post, I believe Google is exactly trying to say the same what you are. Improve your content!

    Hope we do! :)

    • Satish, it was great talking with you on the phone. I believe we got through a lot of information in that short span of time. I don’t think the hummingbird update is anything to worry about at this point. Keep up the good work. You are definitely on the right path!

  18. Quick update: Neil, your readers are AWESOME! They not only read, share and comment on your posts.

    But they DO read your blog comments section.

    Within an hour of posting my comment on this post, these many hits I got! (https://www.diigo.com/item/image/36dat/dyvq).

    Keep rockin’ Neil!

  19. I think it makes people like myself learn even more about SEO which seems like it could have some good benefits. It wasn’t until this happened that I learned about how to judge keyword difficulty for example without any actual tools. Between what Bing offers and my new knowledge I think I will be in a good position while others I compete against will be worse off I’d think.

    • Thomas, the more you know about SEO the better position you are providing yourself. It’s all about putting yourself in the right position for success when the algorithm and your hard work are all tuned to your favor.

  20. I usually check the landing pages in Google Analytics against the Not Provided keywords. It will help you understand what pages are ranking in Google and make a good guess about the possible key phrases. Do not forget to check the country against the Not Provided keywords to understand the Geo location.

  21. I imagine Google doesn’t want people to focus on gaming their ranking, and instead focus on simply producing good content. So to read Neil Patel giving this kind of advice speaks to how well Google is doing in that regard.

    • Gavin, Google is really concerned with natural results. So it’s important to not “game” the system and work with it. Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  22. Thanks for sharing and calming my fears about not getting data about keywords. The data from Google Webmaster Tools is great, and I was able to link that data to my Google Analytics account so I can view that search data in Google Analytics. It’s in Google Analytics > Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries. As long as you have Google Webmaster Tools set up for your domain, I think you should be able to see it there.

    • Josh, glad the article helped. Google Webmaster tools is wonderful. As you mentioned it gives you detailed information about keywords along with other actionable data. When linked to analytics it helps you find everything you need.

  23. Hi Neil

    Thanks again for the insighful post, This is definately true since we have been getting alot of hits from our own blog : http://www.chamasoft.com/chamablog

    We really appreciate your insights

    Just a quick question:

    Is there a difference between putting the blog as a prefix eg blog.mysite.com instead of http://www.mysite.com/blog?

    Any pros and cons?

    Otherwise good stuff

    • Chama, glad you found the post helpful. From the looks of it you are doing all the right things with your blog. I don’t think it matters as much with the naming conventions. I have found, however, that having a simple name works out best. Much like: Quicksprout.com

  24. Google have recently advised webmasters to nofollow links in infographic embeds and in press releases.

    IMO, links still drive search engine rankings, and Google don’t want you to manipulate rankings in any way, even if it is creating awesome content with the purpose of gaining links (because that’s what really matters most in Google). :)

  25. Thanks Neil. It’s funny how the industry is shifting to a “pre search engine” state: If companies simply focused on:

    a) creating awesome content that addresses needs/interests of their target audiences, and…

    b) doing whatever it takes to get this content in front of this audience

    the internet would be a much cooler place :)

    Aaron

  26. Glen, I am a huge ViperChill fan but I think you and Neil are coming from different vantage points with different goals.

    You seem to view SEO from a purely scientific stance: testing actions that produce the best outcomes (leveraging recency as you have written about lately). Before that there were back linking strategies, article spinning, etc…ad nauseum.

    As a fellow provider of SEO services, I can say that your clients don’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) care about the metrics you mention (rankings and traffic). Most small-mid sized firms care about ROI. quality of engaged traffic that converts.

    I think Neil is saying that by producing truly good stuff in the right format(s) and then really working to get it into the hands of a clearly defined audience, you’ll see more net growth than by focusing on the dying, short-sided tactics of ‘SEO”.

    Google should be removing these tools that contribute to focus on loopholes than quality.

    When I was as Nolo.com, we got over 2 Million uniques monthly without opening a keyword tool. we focused on the highest quality content and syndicating through the right parters.

    Just one opinion, of course.

    Aaron

  27. I am almost at a loss for words, it always take me a bit to let this sink in due to how huge this information is. I am going to start putting together infographics and really push for guest blogging. I always feel so much better after reading your articles, thank you!

  28. Hi Neil,

    I totally agree with you that if you create very high quality content that’s engaging and offers value then the rest will follow and I always take your advice seriously. I realise that Google will go ahead regardless, however as a small operator without a massive budget for my little network of sites, I firmly believe that keyword research and Googles analytics data have been an invaluable tool for me personally. I don’t just see it as keyword research, I see it as market research and I feel that quality market research can give the little guy a competitive advantage in a tough business environment. I will adapt as always but I would personally like more data to be available instead of less.

    • Jonathan, you are 100% on the right track. Just continue producing quality content and optimizing that content accordingly and the sky is the limit. You bring up a great point about competitive advantage. As a small operate your best bet is to outsmart the big guys with quality content that they cannot replicate.

  29. Neil nailed it, but in his own quiet way.

    As long as you’re putting content out there that humans enjoy or have a major use for you’re permanantly ahead of any algorithm changes any search engine could ever do.

    Keywords can always be had via MOZ…for a price.
    Love SEM Rush too but I believe it extracts info from the big G.

    People still talk about/use Adwords when you can test or advertise with FB ads or other FB features for pennies a shot with killer demographic targeting?

    As Neil says…watch and adapt…the quicker the better.

    • Dave, couldn’t have said it better myself :) . Thanks for this valuable feedback. It confirms everything I have outlined in my article, you may be able to buy some short term traffic but a long term strategy requires business planning and a focus on quality content.

  30. SEO has always been a part of marketing through internet. Those who just dropped by to try it without knowledge of business marketing sense should either be smart and learn it their own way, or get out of it completely – sooner the better.

    • Roshan, a little harsh but I get your sentiment haha :). It’s true though. As marketers we have to be less centered on one aspect of marketing. Focusing on revenue, a great business model and logistics is very important.

  31. Neil, thanks for this awesome update. Every time i visit this portal n every time feels satisfied.
    My simple funda is Human first ,robots later.

  32. Neil, You always say you made a lot of money with info-graphics. Almost in all of the posts. LOL :P and this Techcrunch guy with green background is so old (I mean banner is so old) and it makes your website old :P Change it man. :)

    Btw Great article, I use to read your all of the posts since a year (almost) now. :)

  33. Nice article Neil, keyword research is really important, I’m using long tail pro for doing keyword research, in this tool we can track keyword ranking as well :)

    Quality content always matters, we should focus on unique topics and unique content.

  34. Another reminder that we can’t build a business that relies solely on Google. We have to find other ways to generate traffic, build a community and make sales. Social media, networking, and building your brand through guest posting and awesome content is a start.

  35. I don’t see info graphics take off in the health industry for e.g. there’s still a few years until they become the norm

    They’ve started off in the business/marketing field, let’s remember this…

  36. SEO bothers me because 1) I don’t understand it and 2) it feels like gaming the system.

    I’m happy about these changes.

  37. Hey, Neil.

    I like your emphasis on quality content and building the authority of a site, rather than gaming the system with black hat SEO and other short-term tricks. In the end, those companies with the product or service that truly satisfies their client’s needs will stay in business. Having an effective SEO program helps a quality company get more attention, so those who have the need will take action.

  38. I’ll start by saying this is exactly the post i was about to Google for, however as if you knew… it landed in my inbox! A very timely piece!

    As a relatively new software company, the marketing is left down to me and now 8 months in we’re realising there is now a need for us to do something about SEO.

    The over whelming message seems to be Content, Content, Content and as one of your readers asked, where is the best place to look for good fresh new content. For instance we’re developing a Productivity app based in the U.K, but the net is flooded with content on How to be more productive, and i’ve recycled a lot of great stuff, but I’d love to go about finding someone who could create original new stuff, inforgraphics, blog articles etc.

    Anyway, brain dump, but thanks for your article!

  39. Great Post Neil, Guess What you’ve got a new follower and FUN :)
    I’m still struggling with Google Updates though .. I guess my site is a Panda Victim. I do feel that Google is playing such a dirty game with Webmasters. My Self I was following the rules in terms of link building but I notice that Google lately raised sites that has doubtful backlinks and dropped mine ..
    thanks once again Neil .. you are the best :)

  40. Neil, Thanks for painting a strong positive picture for marketers everywhere. I love your step #1 – Stop worrying about Google. I would take it one step further and say, start looking at Bing.

    Establish the conversion differential between Bing and Google, and then you can at least theorize about the Google keywords driving more revenue. Making keyword-page level decisions is not going away, we just need to come up with workarounds that will provide us enough of a proxy.

    I definitely don’t blame Google as it tries to stay one step ahead of marketers. I do hope that someday we have a #2 player strong enough that the search monopoly can finally end and the market can dictate rules rather than the service provider.

    • Abhi, I don’t blame Google either. However, I also agree that there should be a viable competitor so there isn’t a monopoly over search. As it stands though there isn’t. If you have any valuable insights you would like to share about Bing please let me know!

  41. Hi Neil! I completely agree. I just focus on good content and promotion and don’t get obsessed with Google changes.
    Thanks and Greetings!

  42. Neil,

    When you say “instead of hiring an SEO firm to build links…” “create content.” How do you think us SEO firms build links?

    Half of my clients wouldn’t know an infographic if it hit them over the head. Thats why you hire an seo firm.

    Also, I think you are speaking to a small percentage of businesses that actually realize or have the resources in house to do the sort of daily content brainstorming and creation necessary to keep moving the needle.

    I hate it when the “big guys” take for granted what us as SEO’s actually do for clients and then spat out such misguided musings as “don’t hire seo’s” which hurts our integrity for no reason.

    • Danielle, I just wanted to highlight how content is always going to be the most valuable piece of content. It’s all about focusing on quality content that you can build links to. It’s hard to adapt if you are SEO that only builds links, but it will be essential to do so.

  43. Neil I am very eager to see the ad revenue for the coming quarters. What I see this as, is not just a user centric decision, to force webmasters into following a more honest SEO strategy but also a terrifically planned nudge to boost revenue from Adwords. Simply because, now if people want to see what keywords are best working for them, they’d have to bid on it, or rather, pay to see keyword level metrics.
    I think it’s a great business decision, but also think that most SEO blogs as usual are overreacting. Yours is the only blog that’s adopted a ‘Please don’t bother about that huge search giant’ stance. :)

    • Samudra, people always do this at every turn. I have learned that adapting and continuing to do all the right things is the best strategy. It is usually those who take shortcuts that find it hardest to adapt. Adwords is definitely a major focus, now more than ever, for Google IMO.

  44. Neil –

    You have an outstanding perspective as someone who has done well on both the SEO and content marketing side.

    I’ve been fortunately to have done well on all fronts, but to be honest, I find guest blogging a hassle (and I’m an author of eight books whose been published in national magazines).

    So many people are competing for the same spots that it reminds me of my freelancing days.

    So what’s your advice on doing quality guest posts 3x a week and still having time to run your business (especially for small businesses/solopreneurs)?

    Thanks Neil! Awesome post, once again.

    • IMO, guest-blogging is *not* a must. If you can do 3 quality posts a week, why not consider doing:

      1-2 on your blog1-2 on your G+ Profile to build your authorityG+ is set up more like a website, where every post can get indexed/ranked as welland 1-2 posts on a web2.0 property or Blogging Platform like Squidoo, HubPages, How-To Sites, WordPress.com, TypePages, etc.

      The one place you’d want to post regularly on is your website that you’re wanting to rank.

      The one issue I have with Guest Blogging (and this has happened to me) is that the owner of the blog might leave your link/info up, but they’re usually not required to, and so you can run into the issue of having someone “rip off” your content; claiming it as their own.

      The biggest issue in this is that (exactly what happened to me: ) you can spend hours writing a quality 1500+ word piece, only to have the links removed in the future because the blog owner decided to claim the post as his/her own.

      Don’t ask which blog did that; I let go + forgave a long time ago, but haven’t guest blogged since.

    • Maria, it’s definitely a challenge. I myself know how hard it is because I am constantly coming up with ideas, formulating an outline, writing the content & then posting. You just have to be vigilant about it. You can always handle the writing and formulating on your own and outsource the actual posting, etc– although I wouldn’t advise it. I like having 100% control over my content.

  45. Hello Neil,
    There is one thing i am a little confused about, since moz tools also get the analytics data from our Google analytics integration.. how are they gonna show the keywords for organic traffic in future ?

    And a great idea to move currently known keywords in moz tracking!

  46. Even though your emails almost always go into my Junk folder, I make it a point to go and dig them out! You have a knack for writing content that’s very timely and helpful! I have a lot of nervous coworkers looking to me for advice now that our visibility to organic keyword performance is being disrupted, and this article covers everything we’ll need to know! I’m definitely passing this one around the office.

    • Add him to your white-list / contact list. I have Neil’s emails go to 3 of my inbox-es (one of which is my personal, goes directly to my phone with alerts set up) so that I don’t miss his posts ;)

    • Justin, thanks for the kind words of support. I hope this clears up a lot of questions for your colleagues. Feel free to shoot me and email and reach out if you have any questions.

  47. As always, brilliantly written article, Neil.

    After seeing your statistics for the infographics, I have a feeling that very soon, you might have to introduce with the person that does your infographics.

    I work in an industry (automotive + Small Business) that doesn’t have very many infographics (or at least good looking ones) and I would like to [eventually] fill that gap ;)

  48. Really surprised that there is no mention of SMM here.

    Neil, you are right about not worrying about Google. That’s because there are far better (and perhaps safer in the long run) ways to generate traffic. By using the top social media sites, you will still have a business if Google views your site unfavorably. Even though you may be doing everything Google wants you to do at present, you just don’t know what they will do next.

    Social media is now responsible for up to 32% of traffic in 2012. That’s up 50% from 2011.

    Anyone have any further views on this?

    Jason

    • Jason, you bring up terrific points. I just wanted to focus on SEO for this post. You are spot on with your observations though. You can’t really destroy a socially based business.

  49. I have to agree with John wholeheartedly on this one (i.e. Google hiding keywords from us). Having access to those keywords that are bringing searchers to our websites is a great help for us in creating thorough, detailed, targeted, useful content.

    For instance, I’ve seen many examples where a searcher came to my website by asking a question in Google, and G sent them to one of my posts.

    Now, by seeing they keyword they used, I immediately know what the searcher is asking, and in some cases I also know that the post they came to won’t fully answer their question. So I’ve gone back into those posts to provide additional info — the exact details that the searcher was really looking for.

    Being able to do this helps me to provide the detailed content that searchers are looking for. But when Google hides that search info, I have no idea if my readers are finding the info they want on my site.

    The bottom line: having access to those keywords allows me to provide a better website, and Google is doing web searchers a disservice by being so secretive.

    • Chris, it definitely does suck that the keywords details aren’t visible. It definitely confirms that google knows what SEO marketers have been up to. The best strategy as I have outlined is focusing on quality content that is sticky. That is one thing that will never be discriminated against. Also, it is one thing that will continue to bring you quality traffic.

  50. Awesome post as always Neil!

    I recently launched my own site and I’ve focused all my efforts on providing the best quality content for my audience. That have helped me grow and get people interested in what I do, and I get quite a lot of comments and shares on my blog posts (for a new blog). And basically no SEO efforts, even though I possibly should put a bit more work into it. At the moment, I get most of my traffic from other blogs, social media, forums and if somebody links to my site, but also starting to rank a bit for some long tail keywords recently :)

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    All the best,

    - Navid

    • Navid, glad you enjoyed it. It sounds like you are doing all the right things! Your efforts to create quality content have definitely paid off and continuing to focus on content that is sticky and interesting will maintain the great traffic to your site. Thanks for sharing your experience :)

  51. Thanks Neil for such an adaptive post to the recent hummingbird change. I absolutely agree that quality in content and links is the key to overall success in visibility and marketing. I think a key reason why they decided to remove the display of keywords is in tandem to your opinion, people should focus on what they have control over (quality products and services). However, I think it is important to note that it is easier said than done. How would search engines distinguish companies or websites with similar quality products/services? Who deserves to be visible etc? These are important questions to remember. You have given a few key starting areas in how SEO and internet marketing can focus and shift and I greatly appreciate the read!

    • Todd, glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for the great feedback. This update has confirmed what we have always known: content is king. Quality content will always trump the shortcuts and linking strategies that people have been using over the years. Google knows as much as the savviest marketer when it comes to SEO.

  52. Great Article it’s interesting that they are doing that with keywords.

  53. Thanks nice article, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds and what new techniques and methods evolve.

  54. Hey Neil

    I’m with you on this one. In my personal opinion I think Google updates get overblown and people put too much weight into their significance.

    They can and do affect some peoples SERPs and could effect some businesses, especially ones with a completely 1 dimensional keyword anchor text strategy, but to be honest this sort of promotion is very quickly becoming obsolete.

    For any successful business the focus should be on creating
    incredible resources for your followers and readers, providing fantastic service and networking with others in your niche and cross over industries.

    You said it best SEO should start to embrace a wider marketing strategy as should anyone who runs a website, blog or online business.

    Paul Back

    • Paul, you are spot on. The times of old SEO of done. Now it’s all about creating a cross channel marketing strategy that focuses on ROI and conversions. You bring up great points about networking with the peers in your network. It is essential!

  55. Sorry Neil,

    Had replied to the wrong comment. Tried to reply to the guy saying that ‘just do what Google and Facebook do. Google don’t worry about SEO’.

  56. Stefan Scheiner :

    My learning from your post was acutally a different one.

    Yes, you should be adaptive with regards to the means you use to follow a certain strategy.

    However, the stategy itself – providing awesome content – should consistently stay the same. Without caring too much about algorithm updates.

    Also people basically respond to the same concepts as they did 100 years ago. They’re just presented differently these days. Still, great copy is a marketer’s best weapon.

    What do you all think?

    • Stefan, I completely agree. If your strategy is working and fits within the guidelines why change it. Adapting to changes, however, is vital if the landscape and rules change in your environment. Thanks for the valuable feedback :)

  57. Thanks Neil I appreciate you saying that.

    I for one love the way that SEO is heading away from manipulation of search engines and more into what people find to be useful.

    I agree wholeheartedly about networking being essential, I really enjoy that side of running a business as everyone has their own viewpoint and its the best way to learn and share.

    Paul

    • Paul, communities much like search engines are based off of networks. It’s all about being connected to as many networks as possible to improve your exposure and relevancy. Thanks for reading!

  58. Hi Neil,

    I do offer quality content writing services.

    I am very selective in the assignments I take.

    I charge between 5c – 15c per word.

    You could refer clients to me if you had like.

    I have been a corporate blogger before.

    Thanks.

    Warm Regards,
    Ronak Shah.
    http://linkedin.com/in/ronaks

  59. There is no Twitter share button. Is it a test about something?

  60. Hi Neil

    What Google’s move to 100% secure search also means is that marketers have more reason than ever to raise the importance of understanding attribution elements even more. Understand what converts a visit to a sale or what assists a conversion is in my view more important now than simply what keyword the typed into Google.
    The thing that will drive this analysis will be having a site that has content tailored specifically to its audience types and marketers happy to roll their sleeves up and dive into analytics data.

    Could indirectly improve industry standards or at least thats what I hope for!

    graeme

    • Graeme, thanks for this terrific feedback. You couldn’t be more correct. It’s all about having content that is unique and that converts. Relevancy is important, now more than ever. Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  61. Thanks Neil, what you’re saying about Google makes me crazy . I always think that Google must be a boss!

    You rock!

  62. As always, a great read Neil. I love that you form opinions and then stick to it. I agree with Glen in the comments, we might not have been entitled to this info in the first place, but many have built their tracking and businesses around it. Taking it away now sucks…

    But of course, it is what it is and as you say, it is important to have an adaptive strategy.

    • Colin, I can empathize with many of the people who have been voicing their concerns. However, after each and every update myself and others have been emphasizing the importance of quality content and relevancy. It’s time for us all to take a step back and adapt :)

  63. Neil, I’m actually glad that Google is doing this because I honest could care less about that. I’m taking the Neil Patel route on http://projectpassive.com and I’m taking it to the people. I’m looking high and low for where my audience is hanging out and I’m constantly engaging. The success I’ve already seen since joining quick sprout pro is amazing! I can’t wait to interview you later on this month for my podcast!

    • Freddie, glad you found some value from the tips and tricks. If you need any help or have any additional feedback I would love to speak to you about it. Looking forward to our call :)

  64. Nice post Neil, sadly Google is still not up to the game and there are sites using scripts which say “Did you mean” to game Google but Google does nothing! Even after you report them.

    Do you know why?

    Because Google wants to make money.

    Sites which rank high but offer less value have high bounce rate and people exit clicking on the ads, which in most cases is a Google AdSense ad unit.

    That is why they don’t care about the crap sites which they list on top, because they care about money.

    If they did care about users and search quality, they should at least have a look into the complaints people put against sites with keyword stuffing and using such “did you mean” scripts, which have 0, zilch, nada value.

    • Faisal, you bring up some great points. This all adds up to what people have been mentioning for years: quality content and relevancy is important. Google knows all the traditional tactics SEO have used over the years and they are adapting to the system is less easy to game. Thanks for the great feedback!

  65. Thanks for the reply Neil! Quality of content is indeed significant, however, it is incredibly difficult in a real-life standpoint to implement. Clients who hire SEO services want to see results and it is not easy to pump out quality content or build great links.Ideally we would like to try, but clients don’t want to invest and see results pay off years later, they want to immediately see results. It truly is a headache to find a good balance.

    • Todd, I understands your concerns. A good way to approach this problem from a consultant’s perspective is to allay your client’s fears by telling them that SEO is a process and takes time. If you can show your clients your track record with other clients they may be more inclined to be patient and wait for great results.

  66. Neil, has your guest posting strategy for building the KISSMetrics blog a good one to emulate if you don’t have in-house talent/resources for creating blog posts? I know you mentioned that it doesn’t get as many comments as QuickSprout, but has it been successful in driving organic traffic that you think it’s a valid way to create content?

    • Eric, great question. It definitely is a great way to get qualified content. The people who visit that blog are into a very niche space so all the traffic that goes there is very specific. This blog, on the other hand, has a broader scope which amounts to more traffic. Thanks for reading!

  67. Oh, No, Google changed things again! Let’s panic. You get to panic for 5 minutes – your time starts now. Are you finished? OK, now, get a cup of coffee and let’s remember what I’ve been saying to my students for 10 years. What does Google want? Google wants to list GREAT SITES. Google wants to list sites that people like. Google wants to list sites that have lots of information goodies. Thanks Neil for providing another voice with that message.

    • Nora, thanks for this comment hahah. It really is true. We shouldn’t panic, rather we should adapt and focus on doing all the right things. Quality will always be king!

  68. Great work niel. Can’t remember a blog written by you which wasn’t interesting. Really loved your word on stop worrying what changes google is bringing. Just work on quality content and be awesome.

  69. Oh Step #1 is so important! I think a lot of Bloggers get caught up on what they need to do to rank high when they should be paying the most attention to Step #2.

    Creating awesome content will get you everything you want out of your blog. It will bring in that organic traffic, backlinks, shares etc (with a little marketing too of course).

    • Steven, exactly my point! People often get caught up in metrics that have very little significance and don’t matter as much. The main focus should be on providing quality content that sticks. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  70. Neil,

    I’m new to blogging / online entrepreneurial pursuits… heard about you through Pat Flynn’s podcast interview (SPI 67).

    Is there a place / resource / product that gives a crash course for a beginner like me on keyword planning / SEO? Your insight and help is appreciated!

  71. Great points Neil.

    We’ve totally been advocating the ‘don’t worry about the Google changes’ stance for some time now for those client’s that haven’t made the mistake of hiring unethical services in the past.

    Ranking isn’t the be all and end all despite what many thing, inside and outside of the digital marketing industry. A great product/service and great content will naturally see a site improve through the constant algorithm changes and there’s more benefits to come from improving organic rankings collectively for a wider range of targets / long-tails than singular keywords for which is now harder to obtain specific analytical data for.

    • Geoff, glad you brought that point up. Rankings aren’t always everything. There are many other avenues for search traffic to come in as you mentioned. A good infographic can really push the needle and send tons of traffic your way. It’s important to focus on metrics that matter like bounce rate, and time on site.

  72. Neil,

    As usual, excellent piece here.

    Agree with you 100% on this. In my opinion, Google updates can get blown out of proportion by a number of people online. Rather than putting so much stock in these updates, I think it’s more important that companies concentrate on using good methods and common sense!

    • Lisbeth, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s really on people to focus on creating quality content that is unique and really pushes the needle. If you do all the right things in that regard you should be set to achieve great search results.

  73. Neil, they did come up with Panda and Penguin but how can they see such a glaring omission that too of use of script, such an old technique. Also keywords stuffing is the biggest unethical technique and people continue to do so because they know Google doesn’t go anything.

    Stuffing keyword in content is one thing but some sites stuff them in the title, using the keywords THRICE!

    • Faisal, not sure how they overlooked that aspect. I completely agree with you on keyword stuffing. It’s an unethical practice and people continue to do it to manipulate keyword rankings. Google, however, is catching on.

  74. Sorry if this is a complete noob question, but could you please elaborate on: “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.”

    Where and how do I enter the keywords in Moz?
    Thanks!

    • Sofie, not a problem. It’s a common question I hear. Moz refers to seomoz.com, they have a tool that allows you to see what keywords you are currently ranking for as well as your competitors top keywords. The tool gives you great actionable data so you can perform your own keyword analysis.

  75. It is true that content is king and it will be .If you are updating your blog with some awesome content then their is no one to stop you from ranking on Google.

  76. Thank you Neil!

    My joy from this post is that it marks a solid beginning of your transformation away from “bowing to g”.

    Even though they are a company that started out with a motto to “do no evil”, as you and most everyone reading QuickSprout are aware, over the past 3 years g has descended to become exactly what they initially said they hoped to avoid.

    All of the updates are designed to squeeze and crush the little guy[/gal] and have nothing to do with quality of search results returned to users, which have severely declined in quality over these past 3 years according to many people. As some have stated here, a major goal, including of the recent “(Not Provided)”, is that people will become frustrated and resort to buying adwords. (I read elsewhere that g’s adwords earnings increased 33% since the panda/penguin BS).

    Over a year ago I switched to using Bing for over 90% of my searches. I do not intend to ever pay for adwords.

    Congratulations Neil on this major new beginning for you, to tell yourself and advising us your readers to Stop Caring about g and their stupid updates.

    They will fail and die, like all evil enterprises, it might take some time, but could be hastened would more people join the boycott and use other search providers, except when checking rankings of their own or clients sites. As you mentioned, even that can be avoided by using moz.com.

    Thanks again Neil, and please continue and increase this very positive development in your thinking and advice about SEO.

    • David, I wouldn’t go as far as saying they are an evil enterprise. Their main focus is to ensure people are not manipulating and gaming the system. I do agree with you about Bing. People should focus more on other search engines so they can diversify their search traffic. Thanks for providing great feedback. I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  77. Awesome Neil… I always look at changes like this as opportunities rather than problems.

    When we as online marketers have to “sharpen our skills” it only shakes off more of the riff raff that can often give our industry a bad rap :)

    Also… Thanks for the Audience Bloom recommendation, I had a call with them yesterday… Very cool stuff.

    All the best,

    Casey Meehan

    • Casey, I think transparency is important. Staying up to date on strategies is one way to capitalize on new opportunities. Thanks for reading :) . As for the referral, not a problem!

  78. Great stuff as always Neil. The more Google changes, the more one guiding principle remains the same. Don’t focus on Google, focus on giving your target audience what they want and on sound SEO and Analytics fundamentals.

  79. I believe Google Webmaster “Search Queries” provide more relevant data than Google Analytics. And, with more and more not provided data, Google Analytics is now changing into just another tool available for webmaster’s to measure the activity of their readers on blog.

    Furthermore, I heard not-provided keywords are coming from iOS and Android searches.

    • Hamza, great point GWMT has been providing more and more actionable data over the years and it’s important to cross reference the data with all of your analytics tools. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  80. Google not providing keywords seems to make some SEOs panic or maybe they are just making some news to show how they are updated. I think it all goes down to quality content + the freshness of this content.

    I’m glad to know that richness in information could become very effective. And with the use of infographics, where rich information can be conveyed with a simple graphics, that makes content marketing more effective.

    • Victorino, well said. I think people should always focus on quality content that is very “likeable” . More often than not people try to take shortcuts. That is a short term strategy that is sure to fail.

  81. I always thought SEOs need to be good marketers. After the new Google update and reading your blog post I realized what I had thought is coming true. Aptly, SEOs need to increase their skill set and focus a lot on content marketing. But, this update is going to kill business for many small SEO companies and individuals who focused highly on keywords rather than creating good quality content.

    • Santanu, unfortunately that is the sad truth. I think having a multi-channel marketing focus is essential for long term success. So many people felt they could take shortcuts early on and are now feeling the consequences of doing so. It is important to diversify, now more than ever!

  82. I don’t know how should I give you thanks! I am totally stunned by your article. You saved my time. Thanks a million for sharing this article

  83. It seems that Google+ is going to break the records of marketing through Facebook in some months. Google and google+ are so inspiring todays in almost every field. Thanks Niels. Your article was worth Reading.

  84. Yes Google Changing all the things. I am totally agreed with your article.

  85. A lot of very thanks Neil as we know Google and penguin update is changes keyword that is your step most important in articles.
    Creating good content isn’t enough & unique content

  86. Yes, the standard “create great content” point. That’s literally all there is to say about your site these days – just make sure it has great content. It’s absolutely spot on, of course.

    Google’s Hummingbird update should help this, too, as it’ll make searches for specific for your products and content.

    • Spot on! Content is, and always will be, one of the most important metrics for traffic generation. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  87. Lyman and Chris Desatoff are right (others may have made the point as well, but I eventually had to stop reading the many comments). Although the article points are all good, they really don’t address the real problem with Not Provided. The real problem is that there is now a huge hole in content strategy. I won’t reiterate Lyman and Chris’s points, as they sum up the problem well. But I felt it necessary to add my “vote” to what they mentioned. You could take the points in this article and apply them to almost anything SEO-related and they’d all be valid, but none of them really address the real Not Provided issue at all.

  88. To become a better marketer one thing matters a lot is “Quality content”. Content Content Content !!!!!!!!!!!! Content is a king and will always be a king. On the other hand social media plays a vital role in daily life. People are more attentive towards social media.

    As social media redefines what passes for communication and information today, companies are beginning to question whether they should continue to invest in developing high-quality content. Their thinking goes, “If we’re just tweeting or posting to Facebook and LinkedIn, we don’t need anything longer or more substantive.”

    No doubt content lives longer and can have a lasting impact on a firm’s brand. High-quality content combats pressure on prices and margins. High-quality content will increase your odds of getting new business.

    • Great great points. Social media gives marketers the added advantage of giving them a platform to share their content on a mass scale. What ultimately will determine if your content goes viral is the unique nature of it along with the value you provide to your audience. Brands are realizing that social media is ever more important to their long term success and persona. Thanks for reading and providing such great feedback!

  89. Content + Social is all you need for a long run. Also fresh content ranks well. I have seen rankings improve by just updating the posts without actually updating the content.

  90. Really good post Neil,

    Of course Google is changing its algorithm day by day, at the same time we also have to find out the new way of marketing and don’t relying on Google only. Now read your article I thought yes we have to make some changes to beat our competitors. Thanks again….

    • Ria, google is constantly adapting but it’s up to us to stay apace with them. The best way to do this is to create unique quality content that goes viral and engages your audience.

  91. Nice info and it looks a management article.I mean it give some boost up to readers who are worry about google not provided.Thank you.

  92. You said it. Another big question:

    How did Google and Facebook advertise themselves when they were starting?

    The answer is the THING.

    My take: To beat number 1, you must not worship any number. :)

    • Brian, it’s a terrific thing. A viral product that is on the brink of going big rarely needs much advertising. People will spread the idea and it will gain a lot of traction.

  93. Great stuff Neil. I’ve never worried about the right keywords for my blogs, although I will admit that for my main business website I certainly have given it lots of attention, at least when I created it and through some tweaks here and there. It does all come down to the content; I know I have to go back & link mine better but otherwise, it works pretty well.

    • Mitch, you are spot on! A mixture of great content and a good back linking strategy can go a long way. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any additional feedback or questions :)

  94. Great post. Just wish Google wouldn’t always make it so complicated!!!

  95. Why was my comment deleted yesterday, were the comments not valid?

  96. Seo is becoming so complicated these days. Nowadays we have to focus on our content rather then google updates. And you Booat Up my mind :D :D because i always worry about google algo.

    Thanks

  97. For almost 2 years I think I found a better source to improve my SEO and also for my clients. I mainly focus on building links and creating quality contents but I haven’t tried out to do guest posting and infographics. This is a good start for me to move forward and develop my skills as a marketer.

    Thanks Niel, after reading your The Advanced Guide To SEO, I dont know where did I put my email and why I’m receiving your daily newsletter. However, its very helpful for me because Im learning. Got the “Part 1: How to get your first 1,000 visitors as fast as possible” yesterday and now I’m implementing it too for my SEO.

    • Julius, you should definitely get started with a content marketing campaign. I believe it will do wonders for your bottom line. Glad I could help and that you found the Advanced SEO guide helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions :)

  98. Great insights Neil. I completely agree with you that good products must be the core of your business so the products will sell itself. On the other hand, not all products are even catchy, so they rely more (furthermore when budget is limited) on the organic results in Google.
    In addition to the mentioned tools: Übersuggest is a good tool to give you keyword ideas.

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