Lose Keyword Data and Find Yourself


The loss of keyword data, which we mourned alongside Denver’s SEOverflow at a sad but hopeful wake, has presented marketers with somewhat of a crisis. What content should I focus on? How can I know what people are looking for? I think this ambiguity is exactly what Google is going for. Like an uncomfortable teenager walking the halls of high school, feeling exposed, judged and irrelevant, marketers, content strategists and SEO specialists have been placed in a similarly awkward place.

So, let’s say we’re back in high school. You might equate keyword data to gossip floating through the hallways. It’s useless out of context, but when you’re in the know it’s solid gold. Who’s hot, who’s not, what’s in style, what’s lame (do kids even say lame anymore?)—all that really important high school stuff. To a self-conscious teen, that information is critical. It helps them wear the right clothes, say the right things, fit in and get noticed. Sound familiar? How many times has a marketing person said something like, “we’re not sure what to say, what are people searching for?”

Now, getting back to our high-schooler trying to fit in. Let’s say those all-valuable rumors end. He moves to a new a new school in a completely different country, let’s say, Googlstonia. How will our awkward teen know what to wear? What to talk about? This is what the word “crisitunity” comes to mind (“crisis plus opportunity” for those of you who didn’t watch the Simpson’s growing up). Without the buzz of “what’s hot,” our teen now has to find his own style, defined by himself, and marketers are going to have to as well.

Like an 80s movie where the wallflower suddenly discovers they were cool all along, I think content strategy will look inward as the data stream dries up. New content ideas will have to come from within and completely uninformed by keyword data. Will it be un-targeted? Possibly, but one could argue it’s more genuine—and more relevant. Like the now-fashionable teen expressing his unique self, certain people may find him more interesting, surprising and different. Imagine that! By not going with the pack, our young chap not only seems like a trendsetter, he is one.

Marketing and content strategy will possibly follow suit. Crafting the right bait based on buzz will be replaced by more genuine, interesting and relevant content. Despite not knowing what people are looking for, by being true to what you do and doing it well, the loss of keyword data could be a blessing in disguise.