How to get Not Provided keywords in Google Analytics

 

In this post you will learn to:

#1: Overcome Not provided keywords in Google Analytics by finding new keyword opportunities.

#2: Optimize organic search campaigns without organic keyword referral data

#3: Understand searchers’ perception of your contents and brand

#4: Calculate the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords

 

What exactly is not provided keyword?

Not provided keyword is a keyword without keyword referral data.

The keyword referral data tells you which search term was used by a person to visit your website.

For example, If someone visit your website by typing ‘new York city car hire’ on Google, then the keyword referral data is ‘new York city car hire’. Similarly, if someone visit your website by typing ‘valentine day cards’’ on Google, then the keyword referral data is ‘valentine day cards’.

There are two types of keywords referral data: organic keywords referral data and paid keywords referral data.

The organic keywords referral data tells you which search term was used by a person to visit your website after he/she clicked on an organic search engine listing on Google.

The paid keywords referral data tells you which search term was used by a person to visit your website after he/she clicked on a paid search engine listing on Google. These paid search engine listing are the PPC ads you see on Google.

 

If somehow you can hide this keyword referral data from being tracked, then all web analytics tools (including Google Analytics) will not be able to report the keyword referral data in their reports.

Google has been hiding the organic keyword referral data since October 2011 by encrypting its organic search data. This has been done in the name of protecting user privacy. But the real agenda of Google is to force more marketers/advertisers to use Google PPC ads, as optimizing search campaigns without keyword referral data is not very effective.

Google doesn’t hide the paid keyword referral data. It hides only the organic keyword referral data to discourage the practice of SEO.

Once the organic keyword referral data is hidden by Google, your web analytics tools like Google Analytics start reporting ‘not provided’ in place of actual keywords in your organic search traffic reports.

But since Google doesn’t hide the paid keyword referral data, your web analytics tools like Google Analytics will continue to report the keywords which generated traffic, sales and conversions on your website through Adwords reports.

 

Note: You can still see some keywords referral data in your organic search traffic reports. But it is just a matter of time before you will no longer be able to see any organic keywords referral data in your Google analytics account.

Once there is absolutely no organic keywords data left, you will see 100% not provided in your analytics reports:

 

Challenges thrown by ‘Not Provided’ keywords

#1: How to find ways to uncover new keyword opportunities?

#2: How to optimize organic search campaigns without organic keyword referral data?

#3: How to understand searchers’ perception of your contents and brand?

#4: How to calculate the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on:

  1. Paid Branded Keywords
  2. Paid Non-Branded Keywords
  3. Direct Traffic
  4. Social Media Traffic
  5. Email Traffic
  6. Affiliate Traffic
  7. Display Traffic
  8. Assisted Conversions
  9. Last Interaction Conversion
  10. Total economic value

In this post we are going to tackle all of these issues one by one.

 

Finding ways to uncover new keyword opportunities

You need to find alternate ways of uncovering new keyword opportunities. You can do this through:

  1. Google Analytics Historical Keywords data
  2. Competitive Analysis tools like SEMRush
  3. Paid Search Campaigns
  4. Search Engine Optimization Queries report
  5. Focus on targeting long tail keywords
  6. Internal Site Search
  7. Page Level Survey
  8. Offline data

 

Pro Tip #1: Use historical keywords data in your Google Analytics account.

Many of you have been using Google Analytics for years. And in all of these years, your GA account has acquired tons of keywords data. Use this historical keywords data to determine keywords which have proved to generate traffic, conversions and sales for your website. Export this data and save it on your hard disk/cloud for future use. Google is not going to archive your historical data forever.

 

Pro Tip #2: Use competitive analysis tools like SEMRush for keywords mining

Through competitive tools like SEMRush you can determine the keywords (both paid and organic) which are generating traffic and revenue for your competitors. Target these keywords through SEO and PPC.

If these keywords have proved to be profitable for your competitors then they should be profitable for you too. In a not provided world you can no longer take great risks while selecting keywords. So focus on keywords which have proved to work.

Note: There is no guarantee that what works for your competitors may work equally well for you. But by and large, this strategy works and it works really well.

 

You may not know but SEMRush also provides keyword referral data. SEMRush update its database once a month and returns those organic keywords for a web page which are in its database and for which your webpage ranks in Google top 20.

According to SEMRush, they analyze the rankings of 95+ million most profitable and popular keywords. SEMRush can be used to determine (not provided) data even today.

Note: You won’t get all the (not provided) data through this method. SEMRush analyzes the rankings of only those keywords which are in its database.

To learn more about how SEMRush can be used to scale keyword research to new heights, check out this article: Automating and Scaling Keyword Research through SEMRush

 

Pro Tip #3: Run Non-branded Paid search campaigns

It is highly unlikely that Google or any search engine will ever hide the paid keyword referral data from advertisers.  So run paid search campaigns on Google and Bing.

Once you have got the PPC data in your Google Analytics reports then open the ‘Matched Search Queries’ report (under Acquisition > AdWords in your GA account) to determine the keywords which are generating sales and conversions for your website. Then target these keywords through SEO by developing contents around them.

Note: There is no guarantee that what works for PPC may work equally well for SEO. But by and large, this strategy works and it works really well.

 

Pro Tip #4: Use Search Engine Optimization Queries report in Google Analytics

Search engine optimization queries report provides lot of valuable keyword data. You can access this report by clicking on Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries in your Google Analytics account.

Through ‘query report’ you can determine the keywords for which your website is getting impressions and clicks. You can also determine average position and CTR for these keywords.

Note: if you can’t see any data in your search engine optimization reports then it is because you have not integrated your Google webmaster tools account with your Google Analytics account. You can get more information regarding such integration from this article: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1120006?hl=en

 

Pro Tip #5: Focus on long tail keywords

Majority of traffic comes from long tail keywords. Still marketers remain busy targeting fat head keywords (like care insurance, travel London etc) as Google reports high search volume for them.

Here is the bummer. Google is notorious for showing inflated search volume for fat head keywords and this can be due to its vested interest to keep keywords competitive for possible high bidding by Adwords advertisers. It also doesn’t report all those keywords which have low or very low search volume.

long-tail-keywords

So if you rely on keywords tool like Google Keyword planner for your keyword research, you will miss out on a great deal of traffic which comes from targeting long tail keywords. And above all fat head keywords are extremely competitive and difficult to rank for. Your website may not rank for them for years.

If you work with the mind set of targeting long tail keywords, you will no longer select keywords just on the basis of their search volume. You will select keywords which are frequently used by your visitors before they convert on your website. You will then use keywords research tools like internal site search, page level surveys and offline data.

 

Pro Tip #6: Use Internal site search

Place a search box at the top of every page on your website and allow users to search contents on your website. Such type of search is known as the internal site search as this search is taking place on your website.

Now set up and configure site search in your Google Analytics account. You can get more details regarding this set up from this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1012264?hl=en-GB

Once the site search is setup and configured and couple of days have passed, open the ‘Search Terms’ report (under Behaviour > Site Search in your Google Analytics account). This report will provide you with lot of valuable keywords data.Then target these keywords by developing contents around them.

 

Pro Tip #7: Run page level surveys

Page level survey tools like Qualaroo can provide you with lot of valuable keywords data provided you use these tools correctly. Don’t ask questions like “which keywords you used to visit this landing page?” Not only does this question sounds odd but you won’t get many replies either.

Ask questions like:

  • What is the purpose of your visit to our website today?
  • Were you able to complete your task? If not then why you were not able to complete the task?

These two questions always provide me with lot of keywords ideas every single day.

For example if you get lot of survey response like “I was looking to get more details about conversion tracking through Google Tag Manager” then you know that you have to write an article which cover this topic in depth. Satisfy your visitors’ queries and you will get conversions.

Page level surveys will also hep you in understanding searchers’ perception of your contents and brand.

 

Pro Tip #8: Use offline data to do keyword research

Many marketers/analysts overlook the offline data available to them like:

  1. Product Catalogs
  2. Product Brochures
  3. User guides
  4. Marketing Material (flyers, posters, print ads)
  5. Sales pitch used by sales and marketing people
  6. Sales pitch used in Radio ads, TV ads or banner ads
  7. Slides used in sales presentation
  8. Sales pitch used in Company’s newsletter or magazine

All these data sources can provide tons of valuable keyword ideas. Sales and marketing people are in constant touch with existing and potential clients and the way they describe and sell their products is probably the way people talk about your products. You can get this valuable insight only through the offline data sources mentioned above.

Check out this article to learn more about keyword research through offline data: Keyword Research for e-commerce websites – Tutorial

 

Optimizing organic search campaigns without keyword referral data

The advent of attribution models and multi channels funnels in my career was a turning point. I soon realized that everyone (I am no exception) is doing analytics all wrong and I should take analytics tips floating across the net with a pinch of salt mainly because they never really take multi touch attributions into account.

Since then all standard analytics reports have started looking substandard to me and I have been looking for radically new ways to use analytics data to optimize my campaigns. First step was coming up with my own attribution model: Proportional Multi touch Attribution Modeling which is a daring attempt to assign values to multiple touches.

Now I am taking the second big step by daring to optimize Organic Search campaigns without keyword referral data from Google Analytics or any other analytics software. After lot of thought and analyzing the way, I use analytics data for optimizing campaigns for ‘not provided’ keywords, I have come to the conclusion that:

We can survive without keyword referral data. The journey is not going to be as smooth as it used to be. But we can still make progress.

Here is how:

‘Not Provided’ Model for optimizing Organic Search Campaigns

 

Step-1: Do keyword research the way I have recommended above.

Step-2: Develop contents to target the keywords you have determined through keyword research. Optimize your product landing pages for these keywords.

Step-3-: Do content marketing. Acquire links.

Step-4: Monitor your organic search rankings for targeted keywords through tools like Authority Labs. I know search engine rankings don’t mean much these days because of personalization. But it is still a good way to measure and improve the organic search performance.

Step-5: Monitor performance at the page level instead of the keyword level. Here comes the twist. Up to now you have been monitoring performance of your organic campaigns at the keywords level.

In a not provided world you no longer have access to any organic keywords referral data.  So instead of determining the performance of individual keywords you need to determine and optimize the performance of individual pages.

You can do this through ‘page value’ metrics. Through this metric you can determine whether the content of the page is adding any value to your business goals and bottom line.

page-value

                           Source: Optimizing Contents for Sales and Conversions through Profit Index

Monitor your pages for increase in the ‘page value’ over time. If ‘page value’ of a web page is increasing over time then it means its performance is improving.

Step-6: If your landing pages are not performing well then optimize them for conversions through ‘landing page optimization’. Check out this article: How to reduce bounce rate in Google Analytics to improve your landing page performance.

Repeat steps 1 to 6.

 

Example:

Let us suppose through keyword research you determined that the keywords:’ KW-1’ and ‘KW-2’ can be most profitable for your product say ‘PRD-A’. So you optimized the product landing page for the keywords. You tracked the organic search ranking for these keywords to measure your SEO efforts.

Then you monitored the ‘page value’ of the landing page to measure its performance. If you don’t see any improvement in page value despite of being in top 10 of organic search results for your targeted keywords then you need to do following:

1. Make sure that the landing page satisfies the visitors search query.

2. Re-valuate the keywords for which you optimized your landing page. Target new keyword variations or completely new keyword(s) by developing/updating the contents on the page.

3. Improve the conversion rate of your product landing page by following best practices of landing page optimization. 

4. If you are marketing your product through multiple channels (PPC, Email, Social Media, Display etc) then assess the contribution of other channels and optimize accordingly. Here is a good article to get started: Google Analytics Attribution Modeling – Begineers Guide

 

Calculating the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords

Read this article: Google Analytics Not Provided Keywords Analysis – Ultimate Guide

This post explains how to calculate the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on:

  1. Paid Branded Keywords
  2. Paid Non-Branded Keywords
  3. Direct Traffic
  4. Social Media Traffic
  5. Email Traffic
  6. Affiliate Traffic
  7. Display Traffic
  8. Assisted Conversions
  9. Last Interaction Conversion
  10. Total economic value

 

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Himanshu Sharma About the Author: is the founder of seotakeaways.com which provides SEO Consulting, PPC Management and Analytics Consulting services to medium and large size businesses. He holds a bachelors degree in ‘Internet Science’, is a member of 'Digital Analytics Association', a Google Analytics Certified Individual and a Certified Web Analyst. He is also the founder of EventEducation.com and EventPlanningForum.net.

My business thrives on referrals, so I really appreciate recommendations to people who would benefit from my help. Please feel free to endorse/forward my LinkedIn Profile to your clients, colleagues, friends and others you feel would benefit from SEO, PPC or Web Analytics.