We've been delving a lot into the Hummingbird changes to the Google algorithm, as well as the fact that keyword data is now "not provided" in analytics. While many clients will want you to report on keyword specifics and their understanding of SEO will more than likely be centered on keyword data, we need to start pushing the emphasis to other areas. We can't access precise keyword data anymore and the manner in which content is being produced and ranked is also changing, because of Hummingbird.
Creating informative, rich, rewarding content is at the crux of everything we do now as search marketing professionals. Because of this, we need to adopt new ways of educating our clients about what we can deliver for them and what they should expect. If they're expecting lengthy reports on top performing keywords and their deviations and movements, they're going to be horribly disappointed if you don't give them the heads up.
It all boils down to changing the way you communicate what you can do for your clients, adapting the goals to what you can accomplish and changing the way that you report on your results.
Kate Morris from Distilled said it best when she said we have to try and remove the word "keyword" from our vocabulary. While keywords will always play a part in what we do, the emphasis can't be on the performance of these words. We need to shift focus to the actual content we produce and the ideas that are associated with them. If content is the crux of everything, then finding out what types of content people want to read is the main objective here. Instead of searching for the optimal keywords (although this will still have it's place) we have to rather look at ideas. Concepts. Really awesome ways of communicating our services, plans, events and products through the interpretation of what people want to read about.
Adapting The Goals
Goals can still exist without the idea of ranking for certain keywords. There are still a number of ways you can prove that your organic search efforts are paying off. The trick is to set goals that are attainable with the current tools at your disposal, taking into account the restrictions that have been placed on you with Google updates and changes.
Kate goes back to the drawing board in her article on Moz.com by considering what the business goals are and basing organic search marketing goals on those. Business goals could be anything from driving revenue to increasing brand awareness or simply to become an expert within a particular niche. Any way you look at it, there are attainable marketing goals that can be set that can positively impact any of these.
Achievable goals, without the use of keywords, might include:
- Increase in website traffic
- Increase in conversions
- Increase in new visitors over a period of time
When your clients still come back to you asking for your rationale on how you're going to get them to rank with these specified goals, perhaps it's time to educate them of the changes in the organic search ecosystem. Moz.com put together a list of ranking factors for 2013 and all of the top rated factors are related to the quality of content and the page as a whole.
Change The Way You Report
Instead of trying to rank for keywords and reporting on those rankings, look at the pages that were being used to target those keywords. What was the gist of the page and why did you need it to be so prominent? This will help you decide what pages are to have the most influence in your reporting. You can still get those pages to rank, but not for the specified keywords, rather for the content and the traffic it attracts.
Report on that data. What were the differences in traffic to those pages from the start to current day of your marketing efforts? Look back at your goals and pull the relevant data that corresponds with each line item.
The largest percentage of work that comes into this is figuring out what your audience wants to read about in order to determine what content should be written. Using keyword tools such as Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest are a good place to start, but social monitoring tools should also be consulted. A great deal of research should go into your content before you even begin to write.
What are your organic search recommendations in light of the recent changes we've had to adapt to?