Google is no longer going to be providing keyword data on visitors to your website.
You won't be able to know what keywords your customers are typing into Google to find your website. Conversely, you will not be able to build a new webpage around a set of keyword synonyms, and know if it's attracting web visitors who are typing those keywords into Google.
This can be seen as a big change in SEO, although it may be that Google has been moving away from keywords for a while now, to focus more on mobile and local searches.
Some speculate that this is Google's way of destroying organic search and keyword manipulation so that only Google Adwords will be available to target keywords to drive traffic to a website.
SEO will be flying blind, in some respects, perhaps but consider these points:
Instead of playing SEO games with keywords, you're now forced to do serious work with key themes and key customer research. You arise from the micro-content realm of isolated terms, to ascend into the loftier regions of categorical topics and wide-spectrum issues.
Instead of fishing for customers in the internet ocean, using keywords as bait, you must now use throw the net of need fulfillment out there to catch the zealous seekers.
Instead of thinking: "Customers are using these keywords in high volume, so let's use these keywords in our web content."
You now think: "Intelligent discussion of this topic includes the use of these keywords, so let's use these keywords in a webpage on this topic."
Or you think: "Here is what real customers are actually saying, in forums, social media, and blog comments, about this topic, so let's be sure to use the same language in our website."
Intelligent discussion. How do you find it? You must discover the most authoritative, reputable experts in a field.
Real customers. Where do you find them? In your own corporate or product blog. In the blogs of your competitors. In your testimonials section of your website. In your dealer locations, branches, and stores. In Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GooglePlus.
Your website must be more authoritative, have richer, deeper content -- and you must get closer to your customers and how they think, rather than depending on Google-generated data on internet search behavior.
Combining the expertise of authorities with the folksiness of real customer expressions, you accomplish two goals:
(1) demonstrating to Google that your webpage knows the right things to say about a topic (product, issue, etc.)
(2) gaining insight into what customers are probably typing into Google when searching for what your company offers, thus enabling your website content to match the query string of the customer.
You can have customers fill out a questionnaire that asks them what they type into Google when they are looking for ___________________. And keep asking that question about all your products.
You can invite some local customers to a usability study and watch what they type into Google when they attempt to find information on a list of products, services, issues, or ideas related to your business. Tell them they are helping you test the website, rather than testing them on their web surfing skills or computer knowledge.
Keyword data, including how well a website ranks for a given search query or set of keywords, was always in flux anyway. Chasing keywords was a never-ending drama that had no final achievement. Since the way customers talk about their needs and possible solutions is always changing, keyword usage in search is also changing.
With keyword data now unavailable, SEO will need to be based even more heavily on a true expertise related to the product and the solutions it provides to customer needs. SEO will need to put a more intense emphasis on customer research, customer relations, and customer psychology.
SEO must concentrate on:
(1) Content that completely but concisely answers customer questions.
(2) Content that proves to Google that it's a smart and ungimmicky treatment of a topic.
(3) Knowing intimately how a product fulfills the needs of customers.
(4) Talking in the language of both customers and experts.
(5) Watching how the most successful websites in your field are talking to customers, and how those companies interact in social media.
(6) Page level SEO data: instead of what keywords did a customer use to find our website, you ask "what are our website's most popular pages -- themes, issues, topics, products."
(7) Building webpages that contain content to please human customers, not search engines.
(8) Creating web content that answers the questions your customers are currently asking, in the language they're using.
The bottom line in SEO was never improving ranking for keywords, even if many clients thought in those terms and demanded reports on this metric.
The bottom line in SEO is increased sales.
SEO is all about conversions first. Everything else is just preliminary work. When your website is bringing you more paying customers, that is the main result that you should care about.
If your SEO program is driving more traffic to your website, and a lot of that those web visitors are converting into sales, then your SEO program is successful.
If that's not happening, but you're ranking really well for a bunch of keywords, what's so great about that? Keyword ranking success is not necessarily the same as sales or marketing success. Even ranking well for high volume keywords is meaningless unless it leads directly to more conversions and increased revenue.