One of the mainstays of SEO has been analysing keywords, in particular using Google Analytics to find out what keywords are bringing in the most traffic. A few years ago, Google began limiting this information by restricting the search data that they provide for users who are signed into a Google Account. The SEO industry took a bit of a hit, as instead of fully detailed keyword data, Analytics began reporting large swathes of “not provided” keyword data from these users. Now, Google has taken one massive step further and has completed removed all keyword tracking from their entire search engine – unless you use Google AdWords, which Google provides full keyword data for.
Is this the end of the world for keyword analysis? Probably not, though it’s definitely going to be tougher to determine how people are finding your website. The key will be looking at this data from different angles, and using other metrics to compensate. For example, you can still run keyword placement reports (although not through Google Analytics) to find out where you rank for various keywords, and you can use Google’s KeyWord Tool to find out the relative popularity of these keywords.
In reality, much of the picture remains unchanged. Determining which keywords you don’t rank is by definition unaffected by this, and there are still plenty of ways to do that. As always Google keeps us on our toes, but by applying a bit of lateral thinking and sticking close to the “content is king” mantra, there are still plenty of big wins to be had from SEO and content marketing.