Last Monday was the day SEO died as we know it. All those lovely keywords in your analytics accounts showing all your Google search referral traffic are now dead, even though we have been seeing it die a “not provided” death for a couple of years now. SEOs have been bitching and complaining about it since the flow of Google keywords shut off last Monday morning, although it won’t do one whit of good.
Then, to kick a horse when it’s down, Google has gone and shut off all the keyword data in Google webmaster tools, which has been touted as the magical rainbows and unicorns workaround for SEOs. Supposedly it is a “bug”, but timing seems a bit suspicious, and I fully anticipate this “bug” will be permanent.
Google, from their perspective, is sitting pretty. They’re getting great press from switching to secured searches for all their users, whether logged in or not, and are coming off as the Golden boy. Not that secured searches is a bad thing, but when you’re trying to figure out conversions from keywords from natural search results, it’s pretty much impossible.
And what is the magical way for SEOs to get keyword lists right now? If you want it from Google, the only option is the paid for Google AdWords ads for all those keywords to get it. So you better fire up those AdWords accounts that have been gathering dust while your search is killing it in the natural search results. Otherwise, hope and pray that Bing does something to increase their search market share.
If you are an SEO, you are probably could be floundering. A huge part of ranking is knowing what keywords you need to be ranking for, or improve those rankings for. If you can’t tell what a particular landing page’s keywords are for converting, you’re flying blind.
The situation is even worse if we’re not talking about your own personal fights, but client sites. How are you to be able to give them legitimate ranking reports and conversion reports if you can’t even tell them what keywords are converting for them? Will this drive more of these advertisers to go the paid route because at least that can be authenticated?
Companies are going to be very skittish to invest a lot of money into an SEO company that can’t even show ROI for their spend, through no fault of its own. A company that is paying $20,000 to an SEO company doesn’t care if Google is doing secured searches are not. They want to know the actual keywords that are bringing traffic to their site and which of those keywords are the ones that are bringing in the most money to the company. If an SEO company can only show an increased amount of traffic, without any kind of accountability to the quality of the traffic, or the keywords, there have a tough time mulling onto those clients unless they’re making buckets of money and don’t care where the conversions are coming from.
It also opens the doors for some pretty sketchy companies to do a lot of shady things. I won’t go into a lot of detail, because spammers are already planning to take advantage of this, but if a website can’t tell if their traffic is coming from quality search keywords versus horrible ones, the accountability is gone. Scummy SEO Agency can send anyone boatloads of traffic for some pretty shady keywords that won’t convert for shit once the users land on the website, but from all analytical reports, it just shows “Wow, look at all this great traffic we are getting!” It will happen.
We had many long years enjoying all those fabulous and free keywords from Google. RIP.