It’s fair to say that Google’s recent decision to provide encryption on its search service has caused a few waves in SEO circles.
The WebSiteMagazine site was one of the first to break cover, claiming the (near) death of SEO as we know it, before then backing up a bit and pointing to the fact that while it is a big change, the removal of this data has been on a slow burn anyway, and SEO techniques are adjusting.
Put another way, without the crutch of knowing what search terms brought which visitors to a page, SEO will only become stronger as SEO professionals are forced to concentrate on content and engagement.
In a sense, Google have merely removed the last industry short-cut, and improved their service offering as a result.
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Other adjustments to their search algorithm, which promotes quality over quantity, and goes seriously long-tail, if the analysts are to be believed, back this up. Despite a few fingers pointing to privacy improvements, many people take the standpoint that Google is trying to encourage value in the index, and not just returning everything and anything related to a specific keyword rich search term.
And there’s still AdWords and the Google Keyword Planner.
In SEO terms, the Keyword Planner is a bit of a catch-up tool. In other words, the SEO professional basing keyword suggestions on AdWords is putting their faith in what the AdWord buyers think are likely to be popular phrases.
While it’s an indication of the viability of a keyword phrase, the danger is twofold. The immediate danger is that it isn’t going to be reliable enough to build an SEO strategy around.
The other danger is that in removing these keywords from referring URLs, Google will force SEO and traffic acquisition companies over to AdWords. This will force prices up, and possibly make sponsored results appear more relevant to visitors.
If this happens, then it will become an AdWords buyer’s market. Those with deep pockets will be able to out-perform those without. In a sense it happens today, but even those with a light spend on SEO were able to get results by researching the keywords that worked and leveraging those in the free index.