What does “Not provided” Keyword in Analytics Mean? (Part 2)

How should you deal with the “not provided” phenomenon? That was the question raised in last week’s article. These following techniques not only offer possible ways to determine the scope of your problem, but…

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What does “Not provided” Keyword in Analytics Mean? (Part 2)

How should you deal with the “not provided” phenomenon? That was the question raised in last week’s article. These following techniques not only offer possible ways to determine the scope of your problem, but also provide specific strategies to reclaim your lost data.

How to deal with the keyword “not provided”

This will turn what started out as a “single digit percentage of ‘(not provided)’ organic keywords” in your Google Analytics website data into 100%.

First, let’s look at some tools and the ways you can use them to figure out the keywords driving organic search traffic to your website.

Landing Pages in Google Analytics

Do you know which keywords you are targeting in your organic search marketing campaign? Have you been using good on‐site optimization techniques for your website’s content? If so, then you’ll be able to get a good feel for which keywords are driving organic search traffic to your website simply by looking at your top landing pages under Content > Site Content > Landing Pages.

GWT Search Query Data

Google Webmaster Tools’ (GWT) Search Query Data is a great tool to use when fighting the “not provided” keyword. The big insight gap it fills is data on number of clicks from individual keywords to your site. Unfortunately, the accuracy of the data has been hotly debated. You should acknowledge the following limitations:

  • You can’t pick the keywords you want to look at,
  • The numbers are rounded,
  • Only three months of data is shown,
  • The tool has had outages (including a recent one) in the past and there’s nothing guaranteeing it will always be available in the future,
  • A click in this report is technically different than a visit in Google Analytics.


AdWords Paid & Organic Report

Organic click data is now also shown in a new report inside the AdWords interface. Popular opinion seems to be that this is the same data used to power GWT, but without the rounding. It’s worth noting that I’ve yet to see Google confirm exactly where this data comes from.

Regardless, it’s certainly worth setting up and looking into. One reason is the potential ability to see historical data for a time‐frame greater than that provided in GWT. A second great reason is the ability to understand how to improve PPC/SEO synergy.

Paid AdWords Data

Of course, AdWords is also a powerful and accurate source on data on how well individual keywords convert. If you are spending anything on AdWords, you should like it with Google Analytics and use that data to inform SEO decisions as soon as possible.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Many websites run CRO tests, to improve the performance of the site. While this has often relied on optimizing the conversion rate for a particular entry keyword or group of keywords, you can now only consider the conversion rate of individual landing pages. This simply means focusing on the right things.

There’s potentially a little loss in data fidelity here; a page could theoretically receive traffic for one high‐converting and one low‐converting term. However, as long as you begin by measuring the CR for people landing on that particular page and work to improve that, you’ll be working on the right thing. In this situation, you might consider creating an alternate page to better target the poorly‐converting term, attracting searchers to that new page and working separately to CRO that page.

conversion rate optimization

Look at History and Trends

Your old data, prior to this switch, will still be available. Now would be a good time to really analyze it and check for what’s been performing well over a period of time, as well as picking up on any seasonal changes (keywords and content that perform well at different times).

Don‘t Worry

Although we find the development of “not provided” keywords troubling, one thing that will always be true is that SEOs are resourceful, – incredibly so. Through 1000s of algorithm changes and a rapidly shifting web landscape, savvy web marketers have found ways to keep up with evolving search engines. In fact, the reverse is often true – search engines find themselves keeping up with web marketers.

Don’t miss our next week’s topic: 4 Keys to Improve Your Real-Time Marketing!

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