There were two major updates for SEO/SEM at Google in September:
1. New Keyword Planner
Google retired the old Keyword Tool, that we’ve all become so familiar with, recently and introduced Keyword Planner. Likewise, Ad Planner has also been replaced by Display Planner.
The new Keyword Planner interface takes a bit of getting used to and you also need to login now with an AdWords account to use – no more free rides from Google. However, the biggest change is the removal of Broad and Phrase keyword estimates. Yup, you read that right – now you only get search volume estimates for Exact keywords.
The change will affect the keyword research for both SEO and AdWords negatively. For SEO, you no longer have visiblity and hence, cannot optimize for higher volume phrases. For AdWords, you now either need to spend more money testing with different phrases or target a longer exact keyword list (and still likely miss out on the long-tail keywords).
2. Analytics Keyword Not Provided
By studying the organic keywords under traffic sources in Analytics, we’re able to understand how visitors found the website, which keywords converted better, etc. This allows us to tweak our website’s SEO and even use the information for our AdWords campaigns, to increase conversions.
Google begun encrypting the searches for logged-in users in 2011, resulting in a mysterious “Not Provided” row in the keywords section of Analytics. There were lots of protests and to pacify the mob, Google explained that it affected only 10% of the searches – we experienced otherwise.
An SEO client of ours received 40,000 organic visits in September, through 4,100 different keywords. “Not provided” accounted for 60% of the visits – up from 20% in January!
Last month, Google announced that they will be encrypting ALL searches – regardless of whether a user is logged-in or not. Hence, you can expect a total blackout on the keywords by Q4 2013. Once again, this new update will have a huge impact on SEO.
Looking at the search algorithm rollouts over the last two years and major updates like these, one cannot help but feel that Google is waging an all out war against SEO and forcing everyone into advertising on AdWords – their main income earner.
What do you think?