Is SEO Keyword Optimization Dying? Google’s Keywords “Not Provided” And Hummingbird Update, Part 1

There have been two recent changes at Google that have the online marketing community questioning if keyword optimization is dead or dying – Now all organic keywords are to be “Not Provided” and Google’s Hummingbird Update.

This article will cover organic keywords “Not Provided”. Part two will cover Hummingbird.

Organic Keywords “Not Provided”

Two years ago Google decided that if someone is logged in securely to a Google web site, such as gmail, that Google needed to protect their privacy and not pass on the keyword for which they searched. Since then the amount of Not Provided keywords grew as more people logged on to Google services and features like Chrome and Google+

Recently Google announced that they have now begun blocking close to 100% of organic keyword traffic. For more about this as well as some possible reasons for Google’s latest move see Danny Sullivan’s article Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks

You can still get much of this blocked organic keyword data within Google’s Webmaster Tools. However it doesn’t get tied to conversions as it did in Google Analytics. And this is the main drawback of this change; we’ll no longer be able to see conversion data to the keyword level (for organic keywords).

As a part of organic optimization many optimizers focus on improving search results (positions, search listings, click-throughs, etc) for specific web pages in order to increase conversions for important keywords. At the same time we examine why some keywords bringing traffic to a site are not converting well. Often low conversions result because the landing page experience needs to be improved or in some cases the landing page is not the best place to enter the site for this keyword. So we work to move people along to the best point on the site for the keyword or ideally get a better landing page ranking higher for the keyword. This both improves conversions and improves the search experience for searchers. Read 12 Steps To Optimize A Webpage For Organic Keywords for more on this.

Hey, Google. Can’t You Just Ask? How about asking your users if it’s ok to pass on keyword data in the same manner you ask about passing data in other features and services such as AdWords. Explain how it can allow site owners to improve the search experience.

Google AdWords advertisers will continue to get PPC keyword data in Google Analytics. So if you’re running Google PPC search ads you’ll still be able to have that keyword data linked to Google Analytics with conversion tracking to the keyword level.

You can import organic keyword data into AdWords. There’s a report available in AdWords that shows PPC keywords side by side with organic keywords imported from Webmaster Tools. Once imported, the organic keyword data should be kept longer than in Webmaster Tools (which currently keeps the data for 90 days).

I recently tested the report for a client that no longer runs AdWords and it works even with an inactive AdWords account.

To import organic keyword data from Webmaster Tools into AdWords choose Dimensions then choose Paid & Organic from the View drop-down (See the screen shot below). You’ll need to link your Webmaster Tools and AdWords accounts (a link to do this will be displayed if needed)

Adwrods paid &organic report
AdWords paid & organic report (Click To Enlarge)

Read Part 2 About Google’s Hummingbird Update


Related info

Post-PRISM, Google Confirms Quietly Moving To Make All Searches Secure, Except For Ad Clicks. Background about organic keywords “Not Provided”