Understanding Google Analytics Keyword ‘Not Provided’

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Google Analytics is one of the main sources to understand how users interact with a website. It helps SEOs understand users’ activity on a website and the keywords they use to discover a website. Everything was all fun and games until 2011 when the ever-irritating issue of Google analytics keyword ‘not provided’ emerged. It has been quite frustrating for marketers since then to understand their website’s traffic. At first, only 5-7% of the keywords were labeled ‘not provided’ by Google Analytics. However, recently, this number has significantly increased and in some cases, more than 90% of the keywords data is not provided.

This makes it quite hard for SEOs and marketers to completely understand user activities. It does not let them know about the keywords that help users discover their website.

In this article, we have discussed what Google analytics keyword not provided or Google analytics not set means. We have also shared a few tips to get around this issue and learn how does Google know traffic?

But, first, let us know what this keyword not-provided means.

Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided

In the simplest terms, Google analytics keyword not provided or not set means Google doesn’t wanna share keyword data with you.

If you are an SEO or a marketer with a website, you know how Google Analytics works. It is a tool used to find out search terms and key phrases used by people to discover your website. Moreover, it helps you to see if your applied SEO tips are showing results or not.

This information is valuable for marketers as it helps them understand what type of keywords visitors use to reach their website. Understanding the keywords helps marketers and SEOs with the following:

  • Identifying the keywords that drive the most traffic
  • Knowing the keywords that generate the most leads
  • Figuring out the keywords that generate the most sales
  • Highlighting irrelevant keywords that drive traffic to the website
  • Improve the overall effectiveness of the website as a lead generation engine

Previously, you could access this data by clicking Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords.

But, not anymore!

In 2011, Google decided to not share this information with SEOs and marketers. Google revised its data-sharing policies and as a result, it started encrypting search data from users. So, the search data, of those users who logged into their Google accounts, was encrypted. Google refused to share this data with SEOs. And that’s when they started seeing Google analytics keyword not provided or Google analytics not set in their Google Analytics.

If you’re wondering how does Google know traffic? Don’t! Because Google still knows the traffic activity like it used to. It just stopped sharing that with the marketers.

According to Google representatives, this policy was employed in order to protect the privacy of the searchers. While this may be in favor of users, it certainly is a problem for marketers and SEOs.

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Tackling the Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided Issue

Well, the easiest way to tackle the not provided keyword problem would be Google Analytics providing the data again. However, that’s not gonna happen!

So, how can we beat the keyword not provided problem in Google Analytics?

Luckily, there are some alternative options to help marketers and SEOs get their desired data for optimizing their search campaigns.

  • Getting a Website Overview with Google Search Console

In this simple step, marketers can use Google Search Console instead of Google Analytics. Although it doesn’t provide onsite behavioral data, it provides enough information about the website performance and results page.

To access information through Google Search Console, click Search Traffic > Search Analytics. It provides a report of those keywords for which the website appeared on the results page in the past month. It can also provide a report for 3, 6, 12, or 16 months.

In the GSC report, marketers and SEOs can access data for:

  1. Clicks
  2. Impressions
  3. Click-Through Rates (CTRs)
  4. Position

This report only provides data for the entire website and not individual pages. However, it still gives a great idea about the most important organic keywords for the website.

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  • Google Analytics Filters for Individual Pages

Once the GSC report is extracted, marketers and SEOs would like to get insight into the individual pages’ performance.

For doing this, they can use advanced filters in Google Analytics. This will provide them with results of those pages where searchers land after clicking through the website.

The limitation of this method is that it won’t reveal the exact keywords used by searchers to access a particular page. However, it will provide enough information about the key phrases for which the website pages are ranking.

Still better than Google analytics keyword not provided!

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  • Google Ads Keyword Data for Reference

While Google Analytics encrypted keyword data, it didn’t take it away from Google ads. However, to access that data, you need to pay.

For some marketers and SEOs, this may be frustrating. But the fact remains that data is available and you can access it by paying. And, any serious marketer will pay the cost because, in the long run, that price will be worth it.

Although data is limited to keywords triggering ads, it will provide enough valuable information about the audience’s intent.

To access this data, SEOs need to link Google Ads with Google Analytics accounts. After that, they will be able to access the information. In Google Analytics, they can go to Acquisition > Google Ads and access the keywords report. The report will show all of the top keywords with data for clicks, cost, and CPC for each search term.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, accessing keyword data for a website is not impossible. Google Analytics’ keyword not provided has slowed down the process but there are other options available to access that information. So, accessing valuable keyword data using other options is advised. It is better than sitting around with 97% keyword data not being provided by Google Analytics.

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