A closer look at keyword not provided and how you can unlock that data.
Ever since Google Analytics added ‘keyword not provided’ to their reports in 2011, it’s been a touchy subject amongst marketers, mainly because a large percentage of website traffic is being linked to searches with no keyword data.
Prior to 2011, you would be able to access a full list of keywords that were bringing visitors to your site by clicking on Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords. Today, you will see that a large percentage of your traffic is now linked to keywords that are (not provided).
Google made the decision to encrypt this data for security reasons, which immediately changed the value of this report, particularly for SEO and marketing professionals. Countless SEO professionals were up in arms about having to pay to get access to this data but this further emphasized why Google needed to take this step.
While we could complain until we’re blue in the face, time would be better spent finding new ways to gain access to these insights.
If you are open to taking a different approach to improving your search visibility and attracting visitors to your site, GA’s keyword not provided no longer needs to be an issue.
Here are a few unconventional tactics that you can try.
Along with monitoring the performance of your website, Google Search Console can also provide you with some useful keyword data. The platform will never give you the in-depth reports that Google Analytics can but it can offer some additional data that will enhance your SEO efforts.
By clicking on Performance, you will be presented with a list of queries that are linked to your search traffic for the past month. By clicking on each of the search queries and on the Pages tab, you will see which landing pages those queries are linked to.
This report will give you some additional insights into keywords that are bringing visitors to your site and where there may be a mismatch in terms of queries versus the pages that are showing up in search results.
You will also be able to access Google Search Console queries via Google Analytics by clicking on Acquisition > Search Console > Queries.
If you’re a marketing professional, you’re probably well aware of Google Trends, yet not many people actually use this tool enough, even though it’s useful.
If you’re not familiar with how to use Google Trends to access keyword data, simply type a keyword or phrase into the search bar to gain access to data on the interest in that keyword. You can even filter the data by category, location and time frame if you need to. Multiple keywords can be added if you want to compare them.
If you are paying for Google Adwords, you can use it to gain insights into user intent. Even though the keywords will be linked to paid campaigns, it still tells you a lot about how your website visitors and potential customers think. If you want to keep everything in one place, it’s best to link your AdWords account to Google Analytics so that you can view the data under Acquisition > Google Ads.
While most businesses don’t want to have to spend additional money, there are a number of SEO tools that are well worth the investment if keyword and user data is important to your bottom line. Some of the most popular tools include SEMRush and LongTailPro.
While this won’t provide you with much data, if any at all, this is still an alternative tactic that you may want to try. By clicking on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search, you may find some data on the keywords that brought visitors to your site via Google but a large percentage of this will still be (not provided).
This tactic may not be able to provide you with a list of keywords, it will tell you which of your landing pages are linked to keywords that aren’t provided. To create the filter, click on the Admin gear icon and Filters.
Click on Add Filter, give your filter a name and select Custom and Advanced. You can now add the following information into the three fields:
Field A: Select Campaign Term and enter (.not provided.)
Field B: Select Request URL and enter (.*)
Output Field: Select Campaign Term and enter np – $B1.
Tick the “Field A Required,” “Field B Required,” and “Override Output Field” boxes and save the filter.
Google Analytics’s not provided data will continue to be a touchy topic and, unfortunately, there is no straightforward way to access this data. If you are losing a lot of important data to ‘not provided’, investing in SEO software should definitely be a key consideration.