Is it Time to Stop Worrying About Google Keyword Search?
In October 2011 Google announced that, in effect, it would stop delivering information on keyword searches from users who were logged into their Google accounts. The bottom line is that marketers using SEO tools (even Google Analytics) to analyze organic search results can no longer see which keywords were used for a website visit or lead by a logged-in Google user. Google's Matt Cutts estimated that only 10% of organic traffic would meet this criteria, so that 90% would still be "trackable.”
The Boots on Ground Truth
Unfortunately, Matt Cutts’ estimate is all about Google keyword click-through rate (CTR) tracking and doesn’t discuss the effects this can have on conversion tracking via Google keywords. Not only that, but the CTR estimate is apparently wrong. Rather than 10%, we're seeing over 22% of our organic search traffic as invisible since the Google update. This equates to 1,661 click-throughs (visits) from Google. Seems like we would want to know something about those organic clicks, but there is no recourse. Google owns this space and is apparently trying to close doors rather than open them.
Effects to Come. . .?
We anticipate the number of "hidden" organic visits and leads increasing over time based on the steady increase in popularity of Google+. It’s also likely the invisibility will grow simply because of the way Google rolled out the change. The roll out was gradual rather than all at once.
Effects on ROI Tracking?
So, we know Kuno’s CTR visibility from Google has been affected by 22%, but how has the conversion rate visibility been affected? Out of a total of 76 leads from Google captured on our site since the change, a total of 25 cannot be tracked to a keyword phrase. That equates to 33% of the search engine optimization efforts being completely invisible in terms of leads. Try explaining that to your client if you're an inbound marketing agency.
What Can Be Done About This?
Well, we can wait until Google changes its mind and reverses course, but we're not betting on it. Instead, it's definitely time to stop obsessing about keyword search and click-throughs from the SERP results. You can still use PPC (Adwords) effectively. These Google changes don't affect those results.
But longer term, for the inbound marketing success of your Web presence you should focus on creating original, interesting content that is relevant to your business. Optimize your content pages in the normal way, but focus your keyword strategy on the content itself, not on the overall website keyword strategy. In a nutshell, you will "get found" via the content itself, not the SEO keyword strategy.
There is still some validity to tracking your organic keywords, but don't make that your primary metric for success. Instead focus on lead generation from outstanding content, and you will be miles ahead.
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