Analytics

What keywords do users search for to discover your website. Your Google Analytics does not show the keywords, with the dreaded "Not Provided" status. But there are ways to work around this. Read on....

The keywords searchers use in Google to discover your website is a key performance indicator for many of our businesses. But have you noticed in your Google Analytics reporting that the vast majority of your search traffic appears to be using the keyphrase keyword reporting as (not provided). Do you know what this means?

Let’s start with the Acquisition | Source Medium | Organic report, with the Secondary Dimension of Keywords.   Taking a quick look at our data, you can see that (not provided) is the top “keyword” driving traffic to our site, and that it amounts to more than 97% of all our search traffic.  I suspect it may be the same for your business, too.

Google Analytics Not Provided 1

 

What does Keyword (not provided) mean?

Quite simply, it means Google is choosing not to share the key word data with you. The searcher did use a key phrase, obviously, but Google is not providing you with the information.  It is all being done in interest of protecting the privacy of the searcher.

Back in 2010,  Google announced that it would no longer provide the keyword data as a result personalising our search experiences based on our behaviour, and this change has been implemented in the interest of protecting the privacy of the searcher.

What can we learn from this  (not provided) key word data?

If you can’t see the keywords, then you will need to find a new metric to help you to understand if Google is sending you high quality traffic.

Consider instead the landing pages the (not provided) keywords are driving traffic to.  The content on the first page the visitor came to from Google, the landing page, is a good indicator of the searchers’ intention.

You can drill down from Acquisition | Channels | Organic report and choose to look at the Landing Pages.

Taking a look at our data for our not provided data, the filenames are a pretty good clue as to what the searcher wants.  Our top 3 blog post filenames reveal they wanted to know more about Desktop vs Mobile metrics in Google Analytics, how to run Google Analytics reports covering hour of day and day of the week and how to calculate the ideal maximum cost per click for AdWords campaigns.

google analtyics not provided landing pages

The Keyword (Not Provided) Secret Sauce

Landing Page data is great, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the actual keywords being used in organic search?

Well, you can see this data, and all you need to do is link up your Google Analytics Account to your Google Search Console data.  We’ve written a guide detailing the steps you need to take.

If you associate a Google Analytics property with a site in your Search Console account, you’ll be able to see Search Console data in your Google Analytics reports. You’ll also be able to access Google Analytics reports directly from the Links to your site, and Sitelinks pages in Search Console. Google has written a guide that you can read here.

Voila, you have a whole universe of new data to take a look at.

What’s the big deal?

Clearly, if you are trying to get your website to rank well in Google, you are not able to measure the traffic results accurately any more, and you can be losing the vast majority of your organic traffic reporting.

But there are even bigger issues to consider.

1.  Google is continuing to provide complete keyword data for it’s AdWords advertisers. In other words, you pay your money, you get your data.  Google is in the business of selling advertising and cannot afford to alienate their paying customers. The harsh reality is that  Google doesn’t really care one way or the other about reporting the full data to the web site owners receiving traffic. So if you don’t advertise, you lose.

2. Google is not protecting the privacy of visitors who click on adverts.  Google has introduced the (not provided) in the interest of protecting user privacy, but clearly some Google users are more equal than others.  In this case, visitors foolish enough to click on Google ads are having their privacy violated.

3. Google initially said that only a small proportion of data will be keyword (not provided). We are seeing 97% (not provided) and I would be interested to know what percentage you’re getting. The amount of not provided data will vary from industry to industry.  Google may not have any obligation to report this data, but given its monopoly on the search market think of the ramifications if it decided to withhold all search query data?

 

Do you want to get help understanding your Google Analytics?

The Hallam Analytics experts can help you to make the most of your Analytics data. Get in touch if you want us to provide guidance:

  • determine the key performance indicators for your business
  • identify how well your current marketing efforts are working
  • plan for improvements on your website based on how your visitors behave
  • set up management reporting for you to use in growing your business


 

10 responses to “What does Keyword (not provided) mean in Google Analytics?”

  1. joannavn says:

    Dear Susan Hallam,
    I want display “Not Provided” in Google Analytics. What can I do?

    • Susan Hallam Susan Hallam says:

      Hi Joanna
      I’m not entirely sure what you are asking in your question.
      Can you give me a bit more information?
      Thanks
      Susan

  2. blogger says:

    I read all the post but I didn’t get how to find out those queries . Post is not clear on how to.

  3. Susan Hallam Susan Hallam says:

    If your Google Analytics data is not showing your your keyword data, then you have a couple of options.

    1. Connect your Analytics to your Google Search Console data
    Here is our guide on how to do that
    https://www.hallaminternet.com/search-console-data-google-analytics/

    2. Or simply go into Google Search Console. If you go into Console, it gives you lots of additional information (like impression rates, click thru rates, and the like) that you will also find useful

    https://www.hallaminternet.com/quick-guide-to-search-console/

    Good luck, and let me know what you find out!

    • Thanks Susan, Great tips, I tried your information, i search in search console panel, under search traffic> search analytics, here I can see, what keywords are clicked to my website, also we can check impressions made by that keywords as well.
      Thanks Again..

  4. Firoz says:

    Search console> Search traffic>Search Analytics> Queries = Not provided

  5. Fiona says:

    Hello, I’ve linked my Analytics account to Search Console, but even with this, when I look at the “Queries” report under the “Search Console” section, 50% of my keywords are still unavailable, which isn’t really solving the problem.

    • Susan Hallam MBE Susan Hallam MBE says:

      How frustrating, Fiona

      If you weren’t getting any data, then there would be a set of steps to take

      But to say your getting half of the data you expect is perplexing. Im not entirely sure you know half the keywords are missing, but keep in mind the numbers provided are approximate, and they correspond to the clicks you’ve received.

      Sorry not to be of more help, but perhaps others will chime in with ideas.

  6. Hi Susan,
    Whilst doing some research to decide if google analytics was right for our (really rather small) antiques business I came across this, as I discovered 98.76% of our keyword data in the past quarter is “(not provided)”. So that’s pretty much nothing they’re showing me! This feels a bit counter-intuitive, because I was hoping to see what keywords were most popular to inform what I should put into an ad words account, and have now been put off doing so. I don’t suppose that once I start paying for ad-words that it will suddenly allow me to see my most popular keywords retrospectively will it?And that it would only work on future data. I guess another way of google gaining more revenue whilst I have to play a bit of trial and error!

    However the next 9 most popular keyword search terms are listed & I have a related question… If these are listed and they only constitute for 1.24% keyword terms does this give an indication of keywords to avoid using in my advertising or not? Because to be honest, they are pretty logical terms that I would expect users to search for.

    Anyway, I have found your blog post useful and plan to look into accessing the search console and linking the two using your help guide above.

    • Susan Hallam MBE Susan Hallam MBE says:

      You raised some interesting points in your comment, Naomi, and here are my thoughts:

      1. Every business of every size can benefit from using Google Analytics. This particular post we focus on keyword traffic from the search engines, but there is a wealth of other information in Analytics which will give you an understanding that can help your business be more successful. In your case it could be how people interact with your stock pages, how good a user experience people have with your shopping cart, the effectiveness of your social media to drive traffic to your site, and so very much more.

      2. Although you can’t see the keywords in Google Analytics, there is rich keyword data right in Search Console, which is *entirely separate* to any advertising you do on AdWords

      3. As for the 1.24% of the keywords that you can see in your Analtyics, I wouldn’t consider that of much if any value.

      4. And finally, I think you have hit the nail on the head with regards to keywords: the very best tool for you to start with is your own business knowledge and understanding. Are your best keywords for the products you sell via mail order with the highest margin, like “Christopher Heal drawers”? Are your most popular keywords based on geographic location, for example people looking for antiques in Totnes.

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