Google Analytics (GA) is a fantastic resource of data for marketers, business owners, and SEO professionals. It seems like there’s no end to the ways you can mine insights from the information Google Analytics provides about search traffic trends and visitor behavior.
But, there’s one area where GA is a constant source of frustration for marketers — the organic search terms report. When you’re trying to learn more about the keyword searches that bring visitors to your website, running headlong into “keyword (not provided)” Google Analytics data can make it feel like you’ve come up hard against a dead end.
No worries! There’s a way to unlock “not provided” keywords and learn more about how visitors find your pages.
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With the know-how and a bit of extra effort, you can unlock the keywords to:
- Gain valuable insights into how your SEO strategy is driving traffic to your site.
- Analyze if your SEO efforts align with the terms prospective customers are using in their queries and make any necessary adjustments to improve your organic visibility.
What Does “Not Provided” Mean in Google Analytics?
In response to growing concerns over search privacy, Google adopted Secure Socket Layers (SSL) in 2011. SSL search encrypts logged-in users’ search queries and the associated search result pages. Good news for searchers. Not such good news for website owners who can no longer pull SEO reports from individual search data.
Since first encrypting search data a decade ago, Google has increased search privacy protections. Now, most of the data about Google search behavior is inaccessible to Google Analytics users, leaving everyone wondering which keywords are hiding behind the keywords that aren’t provided.
However, there is a solution.
How to Find “Not Provided” Keywords in Google Analytics
Although it seems like Google Analytics keyword (not set) is the brick wall that stands between you and the data you crave, it isn’t. There’s a way to unlock the “not provided” keyword Google Analytics data and I’m stoked to share it with you.
Google Analytics + Google Search Console = Unlocking Keywords
Most commonly thought of as a powerhouse tool for analyzing how your site performs on Google Search, Google Search Console (GSC) becomes the key to unlocking search query information when you link it to your Google Analytics account.
Combining the data in each of these tools allows you to match user information to search queries — smashing straight through the brick wall of unprovided data.
If you haven’t already linked GSC to GA, you’ll probably want to get that done before I walk you through how to access organic search keyword data. For all the resources you need to link Google Search Console to Google Analytics, refer to our SEO Checklist.
Steps to Accessing Keyword (Not Provided) Google Analytics Data:
- Log in to Google Analytics and start from your home screen.
- On the left menu, click “Acquisition.”
- Under “Acquisition,” you’ll see a drop-down menu that includes “Search Console.” Click that.
- Select “Landing Pages” to view the top landing pages for your site.
- Now, you can view a list of your landing pages with acquisition, engagement, and conversion metrics. Here’s where you can select which page(s) you want to learn more about.
- Review the keywords that are bringing in traffic for that page.
Now that you can see which keywords you’re ranking for, what’s next?
If you’ve already done keyword research, the next step is to see if what you’re currently ranking for aligns with the keywords you’re targeting with your SEO efforts.
In this example, I’m looking at which keywords Victorious is ranking for compared to the keywords we’re targeting for our SEO company page.
Comparing these two lists demonstrates that our SEO efforts are going well. We’re ranking for the keywords we’re targeting. But what if you found a significant difference between what you’re ranking for and what you’re targeting?
In that case, the best thing to do is revisit the page in question and optimize that content with the keywords you want it to rank for. After implementing your targeted keywords, you’ll start to see a shift in the search query data for that page, so keep an eye out for those changes.
Uncovering the keywords not provided Google Analytics data isn’t hard, it’s just a matter of knowing how to do it. I hope that by following the steps to bypass these limitations, you’ll feel more empowered to delve into your organic query data.
Need More Help?
I love sharing what I know about SEO with marketers to help you drive the results that create a thriving business. Still, I understand that not everyone has the time to monitor and make changes to their search optimization. We forge long-term relationships with our clients because we care about their bottom line as much as they do. Wonder what it’s like to work with us? Take a look at some of the SEO success stories from our customers, then let’s talk about how to get your business the attention it deserves.