Episode 32 – Google just changed the SEO landscape

In this episode Alex discusses the latest move by Google to hide all SEO keyword data, and offers a new way of looking at SEO.


Hi, my name’s Alex Cleanthous, chief strategist at Web Profits, and today, I’ll be covering Google’s latest move to hide all SEO keyword data.

Now for those of you who don’t know me, I have a stutter and it comes out when I get excited… and this stuff is exciting. So let’s get into it.

Earlier this year Google started to hide SEO keyword stats for any users who were logged in to Google – like Gmail, YouTube and Google+. This meant that there was a growing percentage of keywords being put into the ‘not provided’ category in Google Analytics. Well, around 2 weeks ago, Google made a big move… it made a change that meant that all keyword searches on Google would now be in the ‘not provided’ category in Google Analytics and any other analytics programs.

Now you may be asking… ‘so what?’

Well, if you were only looking at rankings to measure your SEO campaign then this won’t really make a difference to how you do things. But if you were implementing SEO the right away, then you were focused on traffic rather than rankings… and you were focused on non-branded organic rather than all traffic (non branded organic traffic is all SEO traffic that doesn’t include your brand name).

But now that’s changed. Google’s move now means that you won’t be able to see keyword-level stats for your SEO campaign. So where in the past you were able to see which keywords were providing the most traffic and conversions, now you won’t have that information available.

So why did Google do this, you might ask?

Google is trying to change the SEO landscape to take the focus away from keywords and put it onto content. Especially because they know that focusing on keywords is what drives people to use far more aggressive SEO strategies than they might need to. They started with their Penguin algorithm update, which focused on links that contained exact-match commercial keywords – and that really shook up the industry. Now they’ve followed it up by hiding all keyword data in Google Analytics.

What this essentially means is that you can still focus on keyword rankings but you won’t be able to see how much traffic you’re receiving from those keywords.

There’ll be a lot of businesses that will be stuck in the past, focusing on rankings rather than traffic, however I’d like to offer a different way of looking at SEO now – a way that will enhance your SEO into the future.

You see, while you won’t be able to see keyword data in Google Analytics, you can still see the web pages people land on from an organic search (ie organic landing pages). And that’s where the opportunity lies.

Moving forward, the focus of SEO should be traffic and conversions to landing pages. This is a pretty big topic so I’ll do my best to keep it brief.

What you want to do moving forward is ensure that you have a different page for each service you provide (or category of products, if you run an ecommerce store). You can then target each page to a group of keywords. So rather than just focusing on one keyword (eg ‘accommodation sydney’) – a landing page will be focused on driving traffic from any keywords related to ‘accommodation sydney’… and that will mean a much more solid and a much cleaner SEO strategy. The goal here, of course, is to increase traffic and conversions for the ‘accommodation sydney’ landing page.

Think about how many articles you’ve seen that come across the wrong way because they’ve tried to put an exact-match keyword into the link. Well now, you can use any keyword related to your keyword group and achieve an even better result.

The more keyword groups you want to target, the more landing pages you’ll need to have on your site.

You should also have a blog that publishes quality content on a regular basis as this content will drive traffic in and of itself through Google rankings. The better the content is and the more you promote this content, the better your SEO will be. The good part here is that it’s easy to see which pages on your blog are driving traffic.

The days of building links for the sake of getting rankings are in the past. Moving forward, link building for SEO is about promoting yourself in places where your prospects are. It might be guest blogging on industry websites, it might be getting listed in local directories, it might be promoting your content through social media. Whatever it is that you do, your focus should be on acquiring links that drive traffic from your SEO efforts. Which leads me to my next point…

Because Google is hiding all keyword data, there won’t be an exact way to separate branded from non-branded organic traffic. In the past, non-branded organic traffic was seen as the pure result from SEO as it was traffic that didn’t include your brand name. That’s now changed. And it’s a good thing.


Because as I mentioned earlier… SEO is now about driving traffic from your SEO efforts. And that means a holistic SEO strategy that integrates content, social media, guest blogging, niche directories and website promotion. SEO isn’t about focusing on particular keywords anymore – it’s about growing your organic traffic overall. And if you’re doing SEO the right way, your branded traffic will increase as your website is promoted in more and more places.

In terms of results, you should be focused on three numbers:

  1. Increasing the total organic traffic to your website
  2. Reducing the bounce rate of your organic landing pages, and
  3. Improving the conversion rate of your landing pages and website overall.

Google is working hard at changing how the SEO game is played – and it’s good at it. The question now is: are you going to stay in the past and focus only on rankings? Or are you going to look to the future and adjust your strategy now to get the advantage over your competition?

I know what my answer is.

At Web Profits we help companies succeed online and we’d love to help you too. For more free information or to get in touch, simply visit webprofits.com.au

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Web Profits TV and I look forward to speaking with you in the next video.

Alex Cleanthous

Alex Cleanthous

Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits

Alex Cleanthous is Chief Innovation Officer at Web Profits. With more than 10 years experience in online marketing, Alex is always on the lookout for smarter, faster and more scalable ways to achieve maximum growth with minimum spend.