Sep 282013

It seems like it was only last month that I told you that Google had made a major change in how webmasters would have to use Google’s Webmaster Tools (Or at least “major change” in my opinion.  To me, doing away with the much loved Keyword Tool was major).

Wait!  It WAS just last month…August 28th to be exact!

Well, Google has done it again.  The hits just keep on coming for SEO folks, and this is even faster than the regular Google Zoo…Panda, Penguin, etc.rollouts.  Now we have Hummingbird!

Search term information as of September 23, 2013

The above is a screenshot of the stats page of a WordPress install. With different platforms the style will be different, but the results are the same. Note the lack of search engine terms.


Its Not disastrous, but it is bad for people maintaining and creating content for websites.

 Google will not be returning search results  to webmasters anymore.  If you go to now and look in your browser’s address bar you will find that you are no longer taken to an http:// address.  Now you are taken to a secure URL…https://.  What does that mean to SEO?

It means that when someone initiates a Google search using this……that Google redirects searches to, even when is typed into the address bar, then clicks on your link that the search turned up the searcher’s data, including the term(s) they used in the search, is stripped out before they are taken to your site.

The result is seen above in the “Search Engine Terms” (may be different in different platforms and stat providers).

When you check your metrics you can no longer tell what search terms are working and which ones never how up…ones you aren’t ranking for.

This is not an all-at-once change…it is being rolled out gradually, so you may not see it yet on your site, but you will.  Of the roughly 100 sites I either own or manage I’m seeing this on about half of them right now, and expect it to happen to the rest within the month.

So, what does this mean to you?

  •  For webmasters, it means  effective website search optimization just got harder.  Search optimization has always been something of a combination of science and art by SEO is confusing...what's a gal to do?design…Google wants it to be hard so website developers cannot game the system and place higher in search results than they should.  That just got harder to do.  This pushes webmasters even further towards having to farm out their SEO work to others, either because it makes it harder to keep up with just what “good” SEO is, or because they don’t have the software or services available to them that good SEO requires more and more.
  • For content creators it means a great source of direction has disappeared.  The terms visitors use to find a website have always been a way to help decide what to write about, where to focus on a particular general topic (if you are writing about “raw milk”, what is getting you the most traffic, nutrition or government interference?), and how to (technically) structure your content.

Either way, it is another cost to website owners, either in time or money.  Most Google algorithms are problems for SEO managers, but are actually good for giving searchers a “quality user experience” as Google terms it.

Not this one.  This is a FILE all the way around, but its Google, so we just have to deal with it.

Bob Hayles

A Luddite at heart, Bob has adapted to being in a tech world adequately. The King of Cheap, he enjoys sharing his WordPress and inexpensive web video production skills with others. He abhors Geek-lish, but translates it into normal human language quite well. He avoids code as much as possible, and breaks out in hives at the mere sight of php, but he will make minor adjustments to HTML. He also reverts to being a Luddite at and is something of a political junkie/blowhard at

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  2 Responses to “Google changes SEO rules like most people change underwear. Often…”


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