What are the (not provided) keywords and how to unlock them

2018/04/03 07:45

What is the ‘not provided’ problem

I think that every marketer has already encountered the (not provided) parameters in Google Analytics. These are the keywords used by people in order to find your website. Google knows these keywords but chooses not to share them with you.

We are aware of how this is making it difficult for you to track SEO KPIs and, at the same time, find out which keywords worth investing in. For example, let’s suppose that your conversion rate for a particular page suddenly increases. You practically have no means to access the relevant data and establish what organic keywords you need to target.

Obviously, this is frustrating! But you must not forget that Google Analytics is provided totally free of charge and you get tons of other useful features that can be used to examine your website traffic.

Why does it occur?

This is actually a very good question. The answer is actually pretty simple: to protect the user’s privacy. That is, each time someone finds your site using natural search, data is encrypted using SSL and you have no means of finding how your site was found.

Today, the only unencrypted search engines are Ask, AOL, and a few others. It is expected that, in the very near future, all the websites will become encrypted and will send “not provided” to Google Analytics.

How to Unlock ‘Not provided’ keywords

The short answer here – it’s impossible. Google does not want to alienate its paying customers. If you are a paying customer and you use AdWords, Google lets you see what these keywords actually are. But if you are not a paying customer, you should look for alternative methods.

Even though this challenge is hard to overcome, we have discovered a few workarounds for you. While following them, you will be able to circumvent and overcome the problem represented by  Google’s ‘Not Provided’ data.

Make Use of Webmaster Tools

Surprisingly, Google Webmaster is a tool capable to shed light on here where Analytics can’t. It provides you a basic overview of all the keywords that led visitors to your website. Furthermore, it allows you to find out the click-through rate for your keywords.

Google Trends

Using Google Trends to unlock not provided keywords

Google Trends is a tool that is often underused by SEO marketers. Even if most of the people are usually familiar with Google Trends, very few take advantage of its features and use it to add value to their work.

For example, Google Trends is able to provide an easy way to get an overview regarding the performance of your keywords. You just have to type your company’s name and analyze how it performed over the last period. From here, you can build queries by adding more terms that will help you find the big keywords associated with your brand. This information can be easily used to help you move forward your content strategy

By using Google Trends, you will easily spot the root cause of unexpected traffic influxes or decreases.  Hence, you will have more chances to meet your customers’ expectations.

SEO software

This one is the most convenient. Several companies provide tools that are designed to help you analyze your data and shed light on the ‘(not provided)’ problem. These tools are relatively low cost, especially when compared to the advantages they are able to bring.

Analyze searches performed on your website

Another great way to get insights on ‘(not provided)’ keywords is to examine the searches users are performing once they landed on your website. You will be surprised to find out how accurate this method can be. Once you activate the ‘Do Track Site Search option, just wait for a few hours, and you will gain full access to the searches performed on your website.


Until now, Google’s ‘Not Provided’ was probably one of the important impediments to your marketing success. But this should change now after you have read our useful tips on how to overcome this problem. By using our suggested approaches, you will gain access to the necessary data that will support you do devise a successful online marketing strategy.

Remember that, unless you are OK with losing your customers to your competition, you should work to understand the keywords that provide insight into your target audience’s urgent needs.

If you know and use different methods to gain access to ‘not provided’ keywords, we would love to hear about them. As a thank you note, we will add the best of them in this post and mention you as a source.