Keyword not provided, oh my!


Google is hiding keyword search terms

In the last month, some 51 thousand folks have stopped by my site. Over half (62%) have come because they've seen a link show up in Google's search results and clicked it. And of that group, I have no idea what they'd been searching for when they saw an article of mine – for over 80% of them.

And guess what? Google just recently announced that it was going to soon start encrypting all of the searches, such that you and I (who write posts) will never know, any longer, which keywords they were searching for.

So if we're all flying blind, what are we to do?

If you really want data…

You can still see data in your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you don't have one, and want to see not only clicks but impressions, that's where you'll want to go. I'll be honest, I don't go there very often. But that's because I take a different approach.


You can also purchase Google Adwords and get data that way. But that's really only for people who are actually trying to use ads. I wouldn't recommend buying them just so you could get access to data.

My own experience…

Now, before I tell you my strategy, I want to share with you my results. I find it helps you pay attention to my strategy.

Sept2013Hey, trust me, before you say anything, I know pageviews are a vanity metric. I get it. Conversions mean more – only here's the thing. I don't do a lot of selling on this site, so there's not a lot of conversion to worry about or measure. Additionally, this post isn't about conversion.

It's about how to make sure Google is sending traffic to our sites.

As you can see, traffic continues to move up and to the right. I took this shot this morning, I'm already moving to 92k pageviews this month – the most ever. And if you look back a year ago, it was about 6k.

So I'm getting 15 times more traffic than I was a year ago. And most of it from Google.

Now my site isn't big and fancy. This is no ESPN or something like that. But for a personal blog that's been around for a bit over a year, I'm happy with it.

I'm happy with my two-prong strategy to help Google bring traffic.

Keyword Not Provided – Tip One

The first thing you should know is that you still know a lot of good and valuable information. You know what pages people land on. You know which articles are the most popular. You can even find out which of your posts are getting the most links – suggesting they're extra valuable. None of this has gone away.

So my first tip is that every day I look at the top “most visited” urls. This tells me what's hot and what's not. When I publish a new post, I see how quickly it moves to 100 views or slow it moves (toward it but never reaching it). If a post moves to 300 or 400 views in it's first day, I've struck a nerve.  If it does that a second or third day in a row – I better pay attention.

Basically, step one is simple – pay attention to what others are paying attention to on your own site. This doesn't require a lot of work or special configuration. I can use JetPack or Google Analytics. Either way, I'm looking at what happened, which is not the same as what someone was looking for. But it's still useful.

Keyword Not Provided – Tip Two

Now, I'm about to share with you my other big tip. I know, I already told you about Webmaster Tools and/or Google Analytics. I've referenced Adwords, so it's not likely to be any of those. What is it, you wonder?

It's really simple. I write for people.

I don't write for Google. I'm one of those folks who makes sure my site is coded well (thank you Genesis) so that it doesn't get in the way of Google reading my posts. I'm one of those guys who uses WordPress SEO by Yoast to make sure my on-page SEO isn't crazy (basically, I look for the green light).

But those are just little things to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot.

The rest of my strategy is to interact with people, to hang out in our Facebook groups, to be a friend to people in the community who send me questions, and to dialogue with vendors who are building products. I talk with people at our meetup. I answer people's questions on Skype or Twitter.

See that strategy is called “interacting with humans” and the result is that then later, when I sit at this desk, I do my second part of this strategy, where I “write for humans.”

Write for Humans, not Machines

Every day. Every single day that I sit down to type a post, I ask one question only. What would people be interested in hearing today?

Most of the time I have no clue. But thankfully, in those non-computer moments, I've been keeping a log of questions, thoughts, and ideas all in Evernote. And so I look there and I see a question like, “what will we do when Google encrypts all the search keywords?”

Then today, I saw this tweet.

I like James. And when I saw it, it made me look at my Evernote and see the same question and say, hey it's time to write my answer to that question.

My answer is simple. Really. It can feel too simple. But that's why I showed you the results first. Because it works. Seriously. It works.

Be helpful.

Be thoughtful.

Add value.

Provide insight.

Tell a great story.

All for people, not for Google.

And the result will be that Google will bring those people over to your site.