These days performance reporting lacks the sting it used to, thanks to Google’s ‘Not Provided’. Marketers do not have access to raw data to measure their SEO performance. In such a scenario marketers will have to use different trending metrics and KPIs to measure results. Although this took some by surprise, it was evident that Google would initiate such a move to make search more secure. The SEO community although caught off guard has put in place a plan that will enable them reports on data that generally has a bearing on rankings. The saving grace is that the new development does not affect us in the way Panda and Penguin affected us.
Let’s look at some of the metrics and KPIs that still help in reporting performance. But before that let us understand what loss of Keyword Data really means to the SEO community.
- New developments only affect SEO performance reporting
- You can no longer use Google analytics to track organic traffic at keyword levels
- Google webmaster tool will have limited volume of keyword referral data
- SEOs will not be able to view traffic numbers of Brand, non-brands, keyword groups, and long tail performance
- Dip in keyword opportunities due to lack of analytics data
- Inability to decipher why high ranking URLs are performing better as there is no data available on keywords that are responsible for the same.
Traditionally SEOs looked at traffic, ranking, and conversion to measure SEO performance. In the new scenario SEOs can still use the following metrics:
- Cumulative organic search traffic by a search engine
- Conversions as a result of organic traffic
- Search engine ranking for specific terms
- Search rankings by page types and page tags
- Search rankings based on keyword tags
What is not available now is:
- Details of year over year traffic for brands and non-brands
- Year on year traffic details by keyword tag
- Total conversions as a result of specific keywords
- Keyword traffic patterns of successful URLs
- Traffic patterns for long tail keywords
How do we report performance in this changed scene?
The total number of visitors to a website still remains a primary metric and should be the goal of all SEOs. However, tracking brand level traffic will be difficult from now on.
URL level traffic
We will not have access to information why a particular website is hogging all the traffic. However, careful study of the successful websites will give us an idea which keywords are generating the traffic.
Finding keywords that people are using is difficult. The keyword referral data in Google webmaster tools is grossly insufficient and inaccurate. However, if you analyze keyword traffic volumes of competitors you can deduce the trends and implement it in your SEO programs.
You already have data on which keywords historically drove traffic to your websites. If you carefully analyze traffic volume changes over a period of time for a range of keywords you will be able to identify keywords that are significant for traffic volume increase.
Identify new keywords with Google keyword planner and AdWords impression data.
Non Google keyword data
While the other two search engines, Bing and Yahoo, do not provide the amount of traffic as Google they can still be used to gain insight on which keywords can drive traffic.
Historical data and trends
Historical data of keywords that performed well in the past is still available with you. Use it while planning campaigns.
‘Google Trends’ is helpful in identifying which keywords are trending at a given moment in time. Use it and make suitable changes to your campaigns.
All the above metrics are not as accurate as keyword level data, but they can still be used to gauge your performance.