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Eric Miltsch

Eric Miltsch President

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Google To Stop Passing Keyword Data

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Well, it's finally happening. Google has announced that it will stop passing along organic keyword values to Google Analytics. The values will not flow through as users are being directed to the secure version of Google. Even if you type in http://Google.com your browser will redirect you to the secure version. (https)

Why are they doing this?

Basically this does two things. It keeps the SEO's guessing and more importantly it puts the focus squarely on content. Google wants websites to be important with regards to the quality of their content rather than just the quality of the marketing ability. 

Some may argue a Google-conspiracy theory at work in that this will just push more activity to Google Adwords (Adwords keyword data will still flow through to analytics) and therefore help drive revenue. Hooray for shareholders if that's the case; Booo for website owners and those just relying on organic activity.

Keyword data will still flow for Yahoo and Bing - and I believe there is a huge opportunity for many sites to grab valuable long tail traffic from those search engines as well.

So. What should you do?

My first thought is to make sure you have your pages cleaned up and organized. Get rid of duplicate titles and description. Organize your organic efforts and be sure you're tracking your keywords and their respective pages within your software - regardless of who is managing the efforts. You need to know where you rank, what the long term performance of that page is and how it performs.

Are you creating individual content for that page? Do you have something different (something different than the thousands of other pages that have been created by your website vendor for the other dealers on the same platform?) 

Are you tracking the performance of the pages and their content? Here's an example of a custom Google analytics report you can use to easily track how your pages are performing: Content Efficiency AnalysisBe sure to set up your goal conversion tracking to track the form activity. 

Do you have custom tracking numbers on your pages? Track as much as possible. 

And lastly - Merchandise as best as possible. You're still going to drive valuable traffic to your site, so make it all worthwhile for the visitors. You know the drill: 35+ photos real videos, price, location, phone number, history reports, etc. And make sure sure the photos are high quality, in a photo booth if possible with great lighting. This all comes together like a puzzle to drive results. 

Nobody knows for sure where the analytics reporting is headed, but we've known this day was coming. Maybe Google is done giving this product away for free. They have plenty of data; paid analytics could be the next step. (I've also said it for a while - this is the beginning of the Semantic Web/Structured Data...more on that in another post)

Don't be left behind and neglect the best practices for on-page optimization, usability and tracking keyword ranking with helpful search programs.

How do you see this changing your activities?  

Paul Rushing
You scooped me... Let me add my own take on this here too.. Your website provider can no longer report what keywords website visitors used to find your website using Google.com. This is great news for the real SEO firms in the space and traffic centric Social Media providers You can still determine what keywords your site is getting traffic from using Google tools. Google will provide the keyword data in Webmaster Tools so the data is still available for now. If you are using Adwords to drive traffic the keyword data is available and this seem to be the end plan. There are several software tools that will help you determine where your sites ranks for keywords and you will still get the data on search referrals from Yahoo and Bing. It is just Google, for now, that is being over protective of their keyword data and in the process forcing website owners to verify their site with them. Eventually the data from Webmaster Tools should become available in Google Analytics but it will not be available to your website providers reporting software. Dealers need to make sure they have Google Analytics installed on their website and that their site is in webmaster tools using a Google account they control not one created and maintained by their website provider. You do not want a website provider using their Google account for this purpose at all. If they have their own Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools on your domain you must insist they remove it and add you as an admin for your website profile for you to maintain the data. (A whole blog post in and of itself the many many reasons why.)
Eric Miltsch
Thanks Paul - yet another reason to focus on the goodies WMT (still) provides!
Bruce Etzcorn
Thanks for the post Eric! As Paul mentioned, Google Webmasters will still show the search queries (for how long that's anyone's guess). I think this makes connecting Google Webmaster Tools and Analytics even more important for businesses ( found in Google Analytics under Traffic Sources --> Search Engine Optimization ). It's easy enough to do but this is often neglected in the setup process.
Eric Miltsch
Thanks for adding those steps Bruce. Still puzzled why the vendors don't emphasize WMT (I have a thought, but that's another conversation) I see that many will add the verification tags but it's never integrated with their Google analytics. Plus, with the new tracking code it's as simple as clicking the verify button within WMT - no additional steps needed now.
Paul Rushing
If I were to make a speculation we are going to probably see a consolidation of Google services over the next 12 to 24 months when it comes to WMT, Analytics and Adwords. If that happens it will really make an even bigger impact on the marketplace. Your right Eric. Maybe we should coauthor a piece on why vendors avoid WMT.. Many don't like to add analytics and this change will completely disrupt home grown reporting that most of the providers offer. Your server logs are blank...

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