Google says goodbye to keywords

No doubt you’ve already heard the day everyone in online advertising and marketing has been fearing has arrived. Google has cut off all keyword data. It’s no more. Google now provides encrypted searches using HTTPS (secure search) and keyword data will no longer be shared with website owners.

Secure search eliminates the ability for organizations to track users by their keyword search. What’s more, organizations will no longer be able to segment their site visitors by keywords within their web analytics software.

To better provide commentary on what this change may mean to your business, I asked Doug Karr of DK New Media and the Marketing Tech Blog to explain all the details in an “easy to digest” manner:

Google’s move to block the tracking of all keywords makes marketers’ lives more difficult, but not impossible. Marketers will still be able to monitor click-through rates using Webmaster data to understand how organic traffic is impacting their overall inbound marketing efforts. If anything, this continues to make us better marketers. We should be focused on writing content that’s valuable to our audience and listening to our audience – not chasing keywords, manipulating sites, and seeking out links to artificially grow our search rankings.  

This is especially good news for the average business that doesn’t have the budget to invest in SEO strategies to generate keyword-rich content throughout the web to artificially inflate the ranking of their content. Most of us can’t compete with large companies and an industry that has grown to billions of dollars. Where there’s a financial benefit to cheat, companies will cheat. And the industry has been cheating (and cheating and cheating). Many of the players are delusional about their strategies but it’s clear that Google is not. Google wants organic traffic to be organic, not driven by wealthy SEO companies that have million-dollar sandboxes to uncover ways to cheat and get their clients ranked. Google’s change is hurting those folks – not you.

And, while you won’t be able to attribute a specific keyword to a specific prospect, you will be able to know that person arrived organically and from what page they did. Knowing the topic of the entry page your prospect arrived on your site on will help you to better understand the content that’s providing value. And doing keyword research and competitive research can still uncover opportunities for finding and writing additional content that will be found and be of value. Search optimization is a foundation for any content strategy, but writing and sharing better content (written, spoken and visual) will always outperform tweaking page titles or keyword density in a page.

One thing to keep in mind is Bing, Yahoo, AOL and other search engines continue to provide keyword data. Depending on how much traffic these search engines are driving, the keyword information from these other search engines is still relevant information.


While Google’s announcement may not be music to your ears, it does present an excellent opportunity for organizations to improve their marketing efforts, and to Doug’s point, for marketers to become better marketers. We can get back to engaging with our audience and building relationships which will, in turn, drive revenue. After all, customer lifecycle marketing is more about moving people to a higher level of engagement and less about which keywords are driving more traffic to your website.