How To Unlock “Not Provided” Keywords in Google Analytics
For anyone running a website, Google Analytics is a priceless resource. It provides valuable information about what’s working and what isn’t on your website, as well as how visitors to your site are behaving and trends in that behaviour.
Some users, however, have found themselves frustrated by Google’s organic search terms report. Increasingly, some results in this section are listed as ‘not provided’, despite being very useful for users who want to find out what their visitors were searching for when they got to the website.
Users paying for their search results using Google AdWords will always be able to see their search terms report, but for those wishing to make sense of their organic data, it is often not available.
The reasons for this are complicated. In 2011 Google altered the way it harvested data from searches in order to protect searchers’ privacy. Referral data connected to some searches was hidden, and it’s this that contains a lot of the information useful to website owners – including keywords.
Never fear though, there are ways around this – although none are perfect and they do involve some legwork!
Using other data
Your first option is to use other data available through Google Analytics to do the same job. You can analyse the landing page reports which are still available using the tool to establish where traffic is arriving and whether you want or need to look into this further to find out about trends and behaviours in greater detail.
Traffic sources data
The second method available to you is using traffic sources data. In the Queries section of the search engine optimisation report on your Google Analytics dashboard you’ll find a variety of metrics to help you.
They are always two days out of date and their scope is somewhat limited, but depending on your needs they could provide ample data; it’s a great tool for smaller sites but won’t cut the mustard for busier corners of the web – apart from anything else, it only shows a limited number of results.
Google Webmaster Tools
The Google Webmaster Tools dashboard is also offered by Google and taking advantage of this can add weapons to your arsenal, giving you a pretty comprehensive list of your website’s keyword performance and telling you what the click rate of your keywords is from Google Search.
To link the two, go to the Webmaster Tools page and choose ‘manage site’ next to the webpage you want, then ‘Google Analytics property’. You should be using the same Google account for Google Analytics, so Webmaster Tools will find your Google Analytics data automatically. Choose the site you want to associate with and press the save button to complete the link.
Of course, if you’re willing to pay you can also glean information from AdWords data and it can be a really useful way to get insight into how your site visitors behave.