I've worked as an in-house SEO before and I've also worked as a senior SEO manager in a specialist agency. So I can certainly feel an SEOs pain with [not provided] keywords!
Most SEOs know the true value that their craft has on a businesses bottom line, but with all the subtle intangibles that they touch, its nigh impossible to pinpoint the actual revenue that's directly attributable to their efforts.
We've all heard that having a faster site leads to less visitors getting fed up and leaving — but its darn difficult to quantify the real financial value of having a site that's half a second faster!
My point being is that a good, comprehensive SEO campaign influences so many different factors of a users website experience that it becomes almost impossible to measure the true value of SEO activities.
And then [not provided] keywords appears — changing it from almost impossible to measure the true value of SEO activities to virtually impossible to measure the true value of SEO activities — thank you Google!
That's the most frustrating aspect of [not provided] keywords to me is that it makes it so much harder to justify SEO investment.
If you're a marketing manager then you're generally tasked with measuring the quantity of website visitors and the performance of website conversion goals. And if its too tough to measure the impact of any one activity its natural to gravitate towards something else.
Especially if you have upper management breathing down your neck, only counting a marketing activity as being valuable if you can directly measure leads or sales from it.
By effectively removing the keyword metric from its organic search referrals report in Google Analytics, the big G has undoubtedly made it a lot tougher to measure the direct impact of SEO. And it might not be a co-incidence that one of the alternatives is to pay for Google AdWords.
But is that fair on Google? Does [not provided] keywords make it more likely for you to pay to advertise on Google? Id be interested to hear your answer to that one.
Personally it doesn't make me want to spend more money with AdWords. But Im more of a content marketer / SEO at heart.
At the moment many SEOs are trying to merge disparate data from Analytics, Webmaster Tools and rank tracking software to try to apportion a financial value to each keyword — a challenging task!
Lets hope that over the coming few months that were going to see some really exciting SEO campaign software appear on the market that makes this analysis job a lot easier.
Because it marketing managers cant easily determine the real value of SEO, then it makes it harder to justify spending time on SEO.
And there are many SEO activities that make the web a better place!
What do you think? Is it going to be harder for you to obtain and increase SEO budget thanks to [not provided] keywords? And if so, will this mean that you will be spending more on paid search instead?
David Bain is author of the 26-Week Digital Marketing Plan as well as editor and founder of Digital Marketing Monthly iPad magazine. Check out David’s free 4 Phases of Digital Marketing seminar on YouTube.