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Post-Hummingbird SEO Reporting

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Are you pulling your hair out because Google is now hiding all your organic keyword traffic data?

You shouldn’t be! Yes, it’s a significant shift and some might argue that it does indeed mean the death of SEO. But I believe that depends on how you view SEO. If you believe SEO depends almost entirely on keyword specific data, then I see why you feel SEO could be dead.

However, if you believe SEO has simply shifted towards being more broad / holistic (vs. Exact Match keywords),
then this really shouldn’t be the end of the world. The way I see it, this ultimately means a bit of a (hate to use this phrase) “paradigm shift” with regards to SEO reporting on organic search performance.

A Change in Thinking for SEO Reporting

How this is changing — new SEO reporting model: Rank by Keyword + Organic Search Traffic and Conversions by Page

Ok, I admit losing out on all the organic keyword data that we used to get can be a bit of a downer from a vanity perspective (I love knowing all the keyword’s for which my pages are getting traffic). However, I’m questioning how actionable keyword specific information really was when looking at organic search traffic by keyword for a given landing page.

In other words, when looking at the performance of your targeted landing pages, did you really get that much “surprise” keyword traffic, or was it almost always exactly what you expected or wanted to see?

In my experience, the most value that kind of report has gotten me was when Google had been sending traffic to a page for mismatched keywords. But frankly speaking, mismatching keyword traffic should not happen much if your targeting is adequate. Yes, it’s extremely valuable to know if/when Google is sending traffic to a page it shouldn’t for a set of keywords, but can you not get that kind of information from ranking reports?

We lean on BrightEdge for this kind of information, but really just about any credible rank tracking resource can help with this. Setting preferred landing pages by keyword is a fantastic way to easily (and “automagically”) determine if Google is not ranking the page you would like them to be ranking. Google had been doing a lot with localization and personalization, which seemed to make rank as a KPI less relevant. Yet in many ways, the change to encrypt keyword traffic data actually recuperates the otherwise dwindling relevancy of tracking keyword rankings – especially now that there are tools to help you track geo-specific organic search rankings.

Look at the Data Differently

I truly feel that we as SEO practitioners and Internet Marketers will not be paralyzed by this change. It simply means that we’ll have to look at the data in different ways. If you are set up well with regards to keyword and page targeting, you should still be able to adequately measure organic search performance with the data available, despite having to deal with the un-measurable issue of vanity.

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