Writing this is as much for me to help me articulate vague thoughts and tie them to conditions our smbs face.
I was checking the data on an smb this morning and among other things noticed a large drop in google traffic and overall traffic between last year same time period and this year. I also noticed overall conditions for the smb.
Its local. The business has a comprehensive adwords campaign that covers virtually all relevant convertible traffic in our market region. The campaign runs 24/7. We view the impression data as a proxy for "DEMAND". The industry is highly dependent on search. It has been for years. Before that it was pretty dependent on the Yellow Pages. In those regards conditions haven't changed much. Sales and revenues are tied to "INTENT" People who are thinking about the service are likelier to purchase.
Since August google traffic and direct traffic have dropped significantly. I see a similar drop in impressions from adwords. It looks to me like a significant drop in demand from same period last year. We've experienced that before.
Yet, overall sales have been higher and revenues higher. We've boosted activity by a significant "call to action campaign" visible on the website. "call to action" is a broad phrase. Its a discount program. Our sales staff sells hard on it and its been quite successful.
With the large drop in demand we've seen a drop in google traffic and a drop in "direct traffic". (I do believe a lot of the direct traffic is actually miscategorized or moved to that categroy from apple and IOS browsers. I'm pretty sure its search traffic.
We've lost search traffic....and demand has fallen off. Yet total leads are virtually identical from last year, and they picked up during the period of the "call to action".
Search traffic was typically strong on a couple of head terms but its also been majority long tail.
Of course I can't track the search traffic AT ALL.
This totally irks me and it does make it difficult to operate. I saw an article Donna tweeted from SEJournal and it completely describes how I feel. Here is the link and here is some of the relevant content:
Search marketing and organic SEO has provided these auto dealerships the leads they need at a much lower price – as low as $15 per lead, he said. However, the keywords that are driving the traffic and conversions are crucial to not only the success of the SEO campaign, said Allibhai, but also important to reporting on search marketing's ROI comparatively. So the lack in keyword data has been an issue, he said.
Allibhai added that keyword data hasn't just helped the auto dealers plan the content strategy, but is also responsible for how their websites are built so they have "out-of-the-box SEO value."
Michael Bruh is Acronym's president and COO. Bruh says the keyword is still the closest proxy to intent, and no company is better at understanding that value than Google – as the search engine itself uses queries to serve up the most relevant results. And this is what brands need to be able to do as well, Bruh said.
When "(not provided)" became an issue, Bruh said Acronym knew it had to do something different to find the keyword-level data that was out there and make it available to brands.
While other companies may say it's OK to deal with SEO performance at the page level and estimating the value of a keyword, said Bruh, "we're saying it's not OK. For large enterprises, it's not OK. You can't deal with dynamic keyword lists – hundreds of thousands of keywords – and not know exactly, not estimated, but exactly what that keyword was for that visit and that conversion."
Bruh mentioned the sentiment among some of the larger enterprises performing SEO is the same, and skeptical at best when it comes to putting their businesses in the hands of Google and its promise to reward sites focusing on creating great content – a directive that's fuzzy to many brands, Bruh said.
While Bruh doesn't disagree with the strategy of creating the best web content possible for the audience, he said keyword data is essential in finding those content gaps that need to be filled.
In operating our own business we have far far far fewer tools. I can't assess traffic. This business has lost some traffic to a "authoritative" site that google pushed to higher rankings per a comment Matt Cutts made about algo's late last spring. (I have huge reservations whether this site/page is authoritative or representative of something entirely different).
We have had to lose traffic by keywords. I just can't tell. I'm pretty much screwed on working on this information Google totally has all the information. We now have none of it.
Its an astonishing theft of information from our business and those of all others with some dependence on search. Google is way too strong...and the US govt isn't doing anything to oppose this. Its a shame. Its hitting commerce everywhere. Its worse than a shame...but since this isn't a private thread...I'll keep from ranting any further than that.