(not provided): Google Locks Up 100% Keyword Data

With the flip of a switch, Google has taken away all (free) keyword data, except for clicks on ads. Google first introduced (not provided) back in October 2011 saying it was a privacy move and claiming it would only have “single digit impact” of results and only for signed in users. Many webmasters, SEOs and others have seen those numbers aggressively increase year over year. Hard to say that we didn’t see it coming.

Why did they do this?

Privacy. Topical privacy buzzwords, like PRISM and NSA, have gotten people worried about their privacy on the Internet. Google Chrome, Firefox, Apple’s Safari and others have been very active in trying to protect their user’s privacy within their browsers. The public has been hyper aware and up in arms that some of the data might be taken by the government and used for whatever purpose. Google decided to take a stand and push the (not provided) to 100%.

Theories: Some people think that Google is also making this move because of financial reasons. Obviously keyword data is a huge KPI for many companies and now the only way to get it is with Google Adwords, so some people have put two and two together. Some also think that Google is doing this to clean up and prevent too much “over optimization” of the Internet. If there is no keyword data to optimize for, then (in theory) there is no optimization. Having said that, if we know anything about SEO’s if there’s a will there’s a way. A new measurement will be used for optimizing.

What to do instead:

  • Google Webmaster Tool Data: As of now Google still gives some keyword data in Google Webmaster Tools. Feel free to use this to get a general idea of what’s driving traffic to your site.
  • Ditch Keyword Tracking: Give up on tracking vanity keywords and keyword tracking in general. This is the perfect time to let your mind rest that you need a certain number of hits or traffic from keyword x, y or z.
  • Use landing page data: Each of your pages are optimized for the main product, or service on the page, so it might be safe to assume that the keyword that brought them to that page would be the product. So if you had a Custom Coffee Mug page, it would be reasonable to think that “custom coffee mug” might be the keyword that brought them there.
  • Roll with the punches: Google is constantly changing the game, and we have been moving and shaking with them, so how is this any different? SEO is just a piece of the marketing puzzle, so keep on keeping on.

The possible (not provided) fall out: This might set some SEOs back because their bosses might get nervous and fall back to relying on keyword rankings to track and measure SEO’s performance. This would be a huge setback for many people in the industry. Hopefully they use this as an opportunity to move forward in the tracking of KPIs for SEOs.

What are other industry leaders saying about 100% (not provided)?

Read more from Rand Fishkin of MOZ, Distilled and Marketing Land.

Do you appreciate the strive towards privacy by Google or wish you had all your data? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

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