By Lauren Rockwell

It’s not the end of the world, and it is certainly not the end of SEO. I admit that I was upset when this move to encrypted organic Google search happened. Since I find most of my content ideas from long-tail keyphrases with one visit each, I was annoyed that this ‘privacy’ solution would hinder my ability to extract content ideas from Google Analytics. Then, I got over it.  I was able to move past this pretty quickly after going through the latest reporting cycle.  In previous posts, CRI has highlighted that SEOs and webmasters still have several tools / methods to show SEO value by analyzing:

  • Landing Pages
  • User Behavior Statisticsbaby
  • Webmaster Tools Data (Google & Bing)
  • Google AdWords Dimensions (Paid & Organic Report)

The removal of organic keyphrases may even make me a better Organic Search Strategist, because I am digging deeper to find the story beyond entrance keywords and visits. Check out these ways to find content ideas and show SEO value:

1)      Highlight Landing Page and User Behavior Patterns

At CRI, we began to rethink how we present organic data to our clients by offering more landing page metrics in our reports to highlight patterns by content type versus keyword.  Most clients see the same patterns each month with the top-level pages often categorized by products, services, and locations. With the recent change, I began looking at the top 50 organic landing pages versus only the top 10.

I was not surprised that blog pages were consistently in the top 50 organic landing pages, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that FAQ pages were. Lots of visits, higher than average visit duration, low bounce rate = SEO heaven. I was able to determine that certain sites would benefit from FAQs per product lines as well as by audience, which will ultimately expand content by 10-15 pages per client.

2)      Site Search Patterns

Yay! Someone got to your site. Cue music, balloons, and noisemakers! They poked around, visited a bunch of pages, but still could not find the answer to their question. They used the site search box. Are you looking at those queries? Were there any patterns to these questions? If yes, answer the questions – on your blog, within product features, on the ‘About Us’ page, etc.  Make it as easy as possible for users to find the answers to their questions. If you do not have a site search box, get one. Now.

3)      Think Like The Searcher

If the answers to your FAQs are located on different pages, then you have more information to work with to decipher patterns per question. But, even if you have one super long FAQs page, you can use this knowledge to your advantage.  If I landed on an FAQ page, I probably searched for an answer to:

  •  A long-tail branded question
  • A long-tail unbranded question

This makes sense especially when thinking about conversational searches – What, how, where, when, etc.  Hi Hummingbird!

For the last few months, my favorite Google Analytics inspired recommendation has been utilizing a 133-character regular expression for FAQs. It has been my go-to guide for finding branded and unbranded content ideas without having to sift through thousands of long-tail keyphrases to find searcher-intent patterns.

I was recently amused that one of our higher education client’s had the question ‘Does (blank) college have ghosts?’ GHOSTS! In light of Halloween coming up, I was ready to pounce on this new information and watch all the social signals (and links) flood in from current students, faculty, and alumni alike. Alas, the college was not able to find any information about sightings or hauntings that they were willing to share. In the end, the ghost question was just the fun part to begin the conversation.

The more interesting and somewhat disturbing data came with the question ‘Is (blank) college accredited?’ Really? The college is over 150 years old and is accredited by six accreditation organizations, but that didn’t matter. The data showed that many searchers did not know that this New England college was accredited. Most people wanted to know two things:

  • Is (blank) college accredited?
  • Where is (blank) college located?

What did I do with this information?  I prequalified all FAQ pages on the site by answering this and other often asked questions over a large date range. I threw in the ghost question for good measure. 🙂

 Conclusion to this SEO Rant

SEO isn’t dead. Google Analytics isn’t useless. We just have to use the information that has always been there differently. We can’t rely on keyword data from Google, but we still have Bing queries. We can still find patterns in landing pages, site search queries, and user behavior. We can use these patterns to make websites better, and be useless to our customers. Ultimately, we just need to think like searchers. What do they want to know?  What questions are they asking? You know your customers. Now go answer their questions.