For nearly 10 years the keyword not provided issue in Google Analytics has caused headaches for SEO Managers. This causes problems when it comes to optimising your pages and organic search campaigns.
Below I am going to explain exactly what ‘not provided’ means in Google Analytics and various ways that can help to provide you with similar information.
What is keyword ‘not provided’ in Google Analytics?
It basically means Google is not sharing all keyword information with you. The searcher used a keyword to find information but this keyword in no longer shared with you. This has been done to protect the privacy of the searcher. To find out which search terms are bringing people to your website, you used to be able to click on the following in Google Analytics Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords. But since 2011, Google started encrypting search data from users logged into their Google account and this is when people started seeing ‘not provided’ in their Google Analytics keyword reports. By this happening it means SEO Managers cannot see the valuable data about keywords in Google Analytics.
When the change was first implemented, most of the keyword information was still available and only a small percentage were showing as ‘not provided’. But over the years it now appears that most keywords are not being provided in Google Analytics.
As the data is now limited, this means you cannot go into Google Analytics, click through to a keyword report, and see which keywords are generating the most traffic to help you analyse important metrics that Google Analytics provides. Therefore, it makes optimising for keywords tougher than it used to be.
Is there a way to get around keyword ‘not provided’ in Google Analytics?
Unfortunately, there is no simple way to find the ‘not provided’ keyword data in Google Analytics. But there are reports in Google Analytics and Google Search Console (GSC) that can help you optimise your website.
1. Use Google Search Console (GSC)
Google Search Console is a very good tool. This can provide you with insight on how your website is performing in search. The only issue with this tool is that it does not show you behavioural data Google Analytics was able to provide you with previously. Google Search Console is a great starting point to find out how your website is performing in the SERPs.
To access this information in Google Search Console, you can go to Performance > Search Results to see a report of the search queries your site has appeared in the SERPs. For each keyword in this report, you can access data for clicks, impressions, click through rates (CTRs) and position. This data tells you what the most important organic keywords are for your website. If you click a specific query and then on pages, you can see the pages that are appearing for that particular query.
2. Use your Google Analytics keyword data from Google Ads
By linking Google Ads and Google Analytics it allows you to get additional data. Since Google started encrypting keyword data, SEO Managers were annoyed because most of this data is still available in Google Ads. This data has its limitations as it only shows the keywords triggering your ads, but it still reveals valuable details about the intent of your target audiences.
To access this information in Google Analytics, you can go to Acquisition > Google Ads and open the keywords report. This will show you all your top keywords with data for clicks, cost and CPC for each search term.
3. Use your Google Analytics search queries data from Google Ads
Point 3 also uses data from linking Google Analytics and Google Ads. To access this information in Google Analytics, you can go Acquisition > Google Ads and open the search queries report. Instead of showing you the keywords you are bidding on, the search queries report shows you the queries people are searching when your ads are shown to the user.
The search queries should be reviewed as they are very important as they show you the exact word or set of words a user enters when searching. This search queries report is important because keyword match types mean there can be quite a lot of differences between the keywords you are bidding on and the search terms that shows them in the Google Ads.
By looking at this data it can show you some great insights into what your users are looking for compared to what you are targeting and optimising for.