Google Analytics Landing Page ComparisonOne of the most commonly asked questions about Google search engine marketing is this: what do we do now that Google is encrypting nearly all keyword data that marketers previously used to optimize their websites?  Is there any way to get any of this keyword data back?

Even though it appears that traditional keyword data is gone for good, there is actually a very simple way to get a huge amount of keyword data back.  But it involves two things: (a) expertise in Google Analytics, and (b) a different way of thinking about keyword targeting.

First, I want to talk briefly about keyword targeting, because we all need to change the way we think about keyword research.  In the early days of the web, it was possible to identify two or three keywords that had a huge amount of volume, work hard, and get to rank #1 for those keywords.  But this has gotten harder and harder to do, because the biggest websites have locked down the most obvious phrases, AND because Google has gotten so much more sophisticated about delivering personalized search results to different people depending on unique factors.  Both of these trends make traditional SEO very difficult to do, which is why I’m pushing people to think about something called “topic targeting” instead of keyword targeting.

In other words, you should stop thinking about which keywords you want to rank for, and start thinking about which topics on which you want to be known as a leading authority.  This will play to your strength, it will play to Google’s strength, and everyone will win.   Instead of saying, “I want to target a keyword like ‘blue microchip data center,'” you should be producing content that reveals your expertise in microchips and data centers.  Your SEO strategy should be organized to communicate the value you provide on the topics you’ve targeted – this will be a much better way of generating qualified leads through SEO.

OK, for those of you who patiently waded through my thoughts on SEO topic targeting, I want to reward you by showing you that you can actually measure the success of topic targeting, despite Google’s (Not Provided) keywords.  It sounds complicated, but I made the video below to show you exactly how it looks in Google Analytics.

How To Get Around Google’s (Not Provided) Keyword Data

  1. Use an Advanced Filter to make sure you are looking at organic visits to your website.
  2. Set the Primary Dimension to “Landing Page” instead of keywords.
  3. Optional: apply a Secondary Dimension of “Keyword” to your landing page report, or to selected landing pages, in order to see the historical keywords associated with those landing pages.
  4. Optional: use the Google Keyword Tool to create a keyword list with monthly search volume around the topics targeted by the landing pages you are reviewing.
  5. Make an excel spreadsheet that groups landing pages by the different topics you have targeted.
  6. Optional: apply a monthly or year-over-year comparison to see trends in traffic related to the topics you’ve targeted.

If you prefer to watch rather than read, I made this video which shows you how to do some of the harder aspects of isolating the right organic data by landing page, which I hope is helpful to you.

Will Marlow is a search engine marketing consultant (specialty in Google AdWords, Bing and Yahoo Ads) who loves helping businesses get found by customers in search results, and he holds four certifications: Google Analytics Certification, Google AdWords Search Certification, Google AdWords Display Certification, and certification as a Bing Ads Accredited Professional. He also spends a lot of time using Excel.

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