How do you think the lack of keyword data from Google Analytics will affect the SEO industry? Is this going to move more budgets into Adwords and how SEO will validate the ROI of their activities?
I think this is a great thing. As with any industry, sometimes something major needs to happen to weed out the riff-raff. Keywords should not be the focus, and for real agencies they haven't been for a while now. While SEOs used to promote 'more traffic to your website', what they really should have been doing is promoting 'more TARGETED traffic to your website'.
Look, anyone can get traffic, but targeted traffic takes work. And that's the traffic that turns into conversions. Agencies that are focusing on keywords aren't serving their clients' end goal - more revenue.
Want more revenue and less crappy traffic? Give me a shout.
It seems like it will have a major effect, especially in separating the wheat from the chaff. The people who saw this coming and prepared for it will be fine. Agencies that haven't been paying attention will be the most affected, some may even close.
But most of all it will affect the small business owners who were doing most of their SEO on their own, using basic techniques and strategies, because frankly, they didn't need to buy AdWords or hire an SEO company or freelancer. They were getting the results they needed from the tools they had, and bootstrapping into a position to hire help.
While keywords should not be the only focus of a search strategy plan, having access to the data that tells you how a person got to your site, is helpful in determining WHY people are arriving at certain pages. It gives clues on what they may have expected to find, and helps track whether what you're doing is on target.
Think about what would happen offline if you ran a restaurant, but suddenly could not find out how people are finding out about your place. Is it word of mouth? Are your television ads working? Did you get a great review from a critic?
Without that knowledge, yes, you can still figure out what to change or adjust. Process of elimination would be one way to find out - stop doing certain things for a set period and watch what happens to your foot traffic.
But it's extremely inefficient, isn't it?
While I don't think this event is a major catastrophe, I do take note when major search publications by fellow experts that I respect advise caution and report it as major news. Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and other major industry publications are watching this closely. I've worked with some of the people at the major publications and respect their work, and thus their opinions.
To your second question, I think it will, because small business owners, especially microbusiness owners will look at the cost of hiring someone to do their SEO vs paying for traffic, and the same thing will happen way back when Yahoo was king of search.
They'll pay. For most small companies it will become more cost effective to pay for traffic than to pay for help, and nearly impossible to do this themselves.
As far as your third question, ROI is proven by metrics. Many other metrics will remain to show the value of search. It still drives the most traffic. Smart search professionals already know multiple ways to show how targeted traffic impacts the generation of leads and sales.
I think it's a great question that a lot of professional SEO's and online marketers are now asking themselves. I recently resigned my SEO consulting gig and am going back inhouse to work for Hotpads, the rentals subsidiary of Zillow, so I'm thinking about it from both the agency and inhouse point of view.
First I'll talk about what I think will change, and then how I would report moving forward or ask my agency to report.
First, what's going to change:
- no more reporting on most valuable keywords and where to invest in ranking next. Instead, people will prioritize based off of traffic.
- second, I think marketers will now focus more on the content on the page and how well it converts, and not just on how much traffic they are driving. A better converting page is better for all channels of traffic.
- third, marketers should report on buckets of *pages* driving revenue instead of keywords. I think ultimately this is a loss for the internet because marketers can no longer build better pages to make users happier and the website more money when they see an opportunity in their keyword traffic reports.
I think not provided is a very real issue, and unfortunately one that will have people focusing more on rankings than before. Smart marketers will be able to take rankings, webmaster tools impressions and clicks data (as bad as that is), potential volume, and CPC data and use it to make smart decisions about where to invest time.
Rand Fishkin did a whiteboard video a week ago about not provided, and wrote a post about it late last week. He had some good thoughts, but I disagree that much will change as far as SEO budgets are concerned. Agencies and inhouse people make their bosses care about the data. Their bosses really only care about rankings because that is what they can see. Marketers just need to get smarter about how they report on their activities so that we get credit for the sales the channel is bringing.
Hope this helps. Give me a call if you want to discuss further!
You should be using Webmaster Tools search query report for this reporting... The Analytics keyword reporting is a small tool in a big world, and one that I have never relied on in 8 years of doing SEO.
SEO's validate their ROI based on revenue and sales like all marketing, not based on keyword level reporting.
SEO isn't primarily what I do. But I'll share my perspective for what it's worth. You'll want to form your own judgments.
It seems patently clear to me why Google has begun withholding information. By turning off the lights, they'll be able to raise the price on flash lights and sell flash lights in higher numbers.
AdWords will generate more money because -- in the new data vacuum -- it will seem to be a more reliable way to reach relevant traffic.
Webmasters will now be comparatively in the dark. Denied the information formerly used to attract an audience and fine-tune their content to match what consumers are seeking, these same online businesses will now begin turning even more to Google for guidance.
This should lead directly to more AdWords bids.
If I'm wrong, please instruct me.
This is a great question!
A good SEO should be able to tell you that you don't need keyword data, because for the past few years, Google has been hinting Content, Content, Content. If you haven't noticed, Google is trying to give you more answers in your Search Results without needing any other websites. Perfect example is Airline Flights. If you know your Flight Number you no longer need to even go to the Airline website to look up your flight, just put it into google and it will tell you the status of the flight.
Google has stressed "Content is King" and lots of SEO's just optimize for Keywords, this is the wrong approach, you need to put quality content on your website to attract your potential clients. With google people are empowered to information at their fingertips, make sure your website has the information they need and you'll be awarded with High Ranks for your target keywords.
There are lots of ways to get the keywords people are searching to get to your site, however this is not needed if you are focusing your content to gain rank for the keywords you want / need!
Yes, more budgets are going to get moved to Adwords and Paid Search in General, however this is because companies have focused on the wrong strategies for their SEO efforts.
Create a plan to help give the SEARCHER what they are looking for, and Google / Yahoo will award you with Good Rankings.
My clients haven't seen any sort of decline in Search Traffic because I have set them all up with the proper strategy for success. This is where my 14 Years of Search Experience comes into play.
If you looking for a good SEO plan that will last for years to come, don't hesitate to set up a call with me, and let's get your company on the Right Track !