Source: week, Google confirmed that the party’s over.

Now, sure, I don’t know that the ability to identify the keywords bringing traffic to my site ever qualified as a party, but, in comparison to a life of “(not provided)”, the old way was the better way. For small bizzes like ours, at least.

(Is it wrong to be nostalgic for the days when only half my traffic came via unknown keywords?)

But is it all doom and gloom? Admittedly, I’m not an SEO expert – we specialize in CRO ’round these parts (thank goodness!), and we’ve brought in traffic gurus for our bootcamp – but it seems that, with every world-ending change that Google announces, the essentials don’t change that much. Correct me if I’m wrong! But you can still do keyword research… and you can still benefit from optimizing your page URL, title, description and content for a keyword… and you can still get great juice by creating content people share. The essentials are still the same.


A reader and student in our upcoming Optimization Bootcamp wrote to me today to ask, essentially, that question. Do the old rules apply? Is everything different now? Here’s what she asked:

“Is the bootcamp lesson on keyword research going to reference the explosion of keyword (not provided) Google basically told us to expect yesterday?” – Ramsay L.

Very good Q. I wondered exactly how much keyword research will be impacted by this change. Here’s what Pamela at HubSpot had to say about the question of keyword research:

“Without these keyword insights [normally found in GA], marketers would have a much tougher time knowing which keywords to target to achieve greater visibility in search.”

It seems that keyword research efforts will no longer be informed by the keywords your visitors searched, though they still can be informed by your PPC data, which WordStream’s Larry Kim highlighted. In the absence of such critical info from Google, the ability to do good ol’ fashioned from-scratch keyword research effectively is that much more important. If you’ve gotta do it alone, you’d better know what you’re doing.

And so, with that, I’m posting the first video from the upcoming Optimization Bootcamp. It’s covers a tried-and-true method of keyword research – complete with a breakdown of the 2 editorial ‘categories’ into which your keywords should fall – and it’s led by Distilled’s own Paddy Moogan.

Do you see encrypted search terms more dramatically impacting keyword research? The news is fresh. I’m only partly in the know. Let’s discuss below!

PS: Check out Not Provided Count, which I learned about on HubSpot…

UPDATE: The brilliant Dave Collins just posted this video to help with (not provided)