Google Changes on Keyword Referrals Do Not Kill SEO – They Make It Better

Read the original post published on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog on October 19, 2011.

With Google’s latest announcement in the name of customization and secure searching, the act of reporting on organic keyword referral data is changing.

Marketers will no longer be able to track which keywords referred a user to their site if the user was logged into Google at the time of their search. While this is an interesting move – and one that our SEO reporting team is taking into heavy consideration – I want to be clear about its impact.

Like all Google changes, for those of us who do SEO for a living, it will result in us being better at our jobs.

I saw this tweet from Danny Sullivan on Tuesday afternoon, and it drew my attention. There has been a trend of sorts over the last couple of years with multiple people claiming that SEO is dead, and that soon there will be no space for SEO in the future.

@dannysullivan

What we all need to remember is that when Google updates their algorithm, the way they manage data, or the way they do business, it doesn’t mean that SEO is dead. It means that SEO is evolving.

If it weren’t for search engine improvements, things like cloaking and link farms would still be an effective way to drive visibility.

What is important for any marketing team to know is that we keep up-to-date on the latest changes, modifications and improvements being made at Google and the other search engines. Being aware of these changes is only going to help us do our jobs better. Yes, there are some core features of SEO that have stood the test of time, and we continue to focus on those; but there is more – much more – that goes into a successful SEO program than just ensuring that all pages have unique title tags. A lot of these evolutions in our practices have come from search engine updates, and our continuous testing and retesting of all the tactics we implement.

And now that Google is updating the type and amount of information they’ll be sharing with us through analytics packages (including their own), it’s time once again to think of what we are reporting on, how we are reporting, and what information is the most important to our clients. Danny is right: it may make conversion tracking more challenging, but these challenges aren’t anything new. Successful SEO teams will always rise to the challenge and evolve their practices.

As long people continue to rely on search engines to find relevant information, SEO will be an important part of the marketing mix.

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