What is Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided and how to unlock it

Last Updated: May 26, 2022

Table of Contents
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  1. What is Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided?
  2. Types of Keywords Referral Data
  3. How to find not provided keywords in Google Analytics?
  4. Why unlocking Google Analytics Not provided keywords is important?
  5. How to unlock Google Analytics Not Provided Keywords?
  6. Use the Keyword Hero tool to unlock Google Analytics Not Provided Keywords
  7. How does Keyword Hero work?
  8. What about the accuracy of the data from the keyword hero tool?
  9. Advantages of using the Keyword Hero tool
  10. Limitations of the Keyword Hero tool
  11. Case Study #1: How to see the average search engine ranking positions in Google Analytics
  12. Case Study #2: How to see the list of all the keywords which are sending traffic to a particular landing page
  13. Use ‘Search Console Queries’ report in Google Analytics
  14. Use competitive analysis tools like ‘SEMRush’ for keywords mining
  15. Use Internal site search data
  16. Run Non-branded Paid search campaigns
  17. Run page level surveys
  18. Use offline data to do keyword research
  19. Go beyond the traditional Keyword Research Tools
  20. Determine how the products are described on your website
  21. Determine how people describe your products both online and offline
  22. Determine how sales and marketing people describe and sell your products
  23. Determine how people naturally link out to your website
  24. Determine how competitors describe their products
  25. Understand Searchers’ Intent & Capture it in the early stage of the buying cycle.
  26. Use historical keywords data in your Google Analytics reports
  27. Google Analytics ‘Not Provided’ Keywords Analysis
  28. Some background information about Channel Labels and Channel Grouping
  29. Creating Custom Channel Grouping for advanced keywords analysis
  30. Calculating the Impact of Not Provided keywords on Organic Branded Keywords
  31. Calculating the Impact of Not Provided keywords on Organic Non-Branded Keywords
  32. Calculating the Impact of Not Provided keywords on Direct Traffic
  33. Calculating the total economic value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords
  34. Other articles on specialized tracking in Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics Keyword Not Provided?

As the name suggests, ‘(not provided)‘ means Google is choosing not to provide the keyword data to you.

Technically speaking, Google Analytics Not provided keywords are the keywords without ‘keyword referral data’.

The keyword referral data tells you which search term was used by a person on a search engine (like Google) to visit your website. 

For example, if someone visits your website by typing ‘web analytics training’ on Google, then the keyword referral data is ‘web analytics training’.

Similarly, if someone visits your website by typing ‘google analytics bounce rate’’ on Google, then the keyword referral data is ‘google analytics bounce rate’.

Types of Keywords Referral Data

There are two types of keywords referral data:

#1 Organic keywords referral data – It tells you which search term was used by a person to visit your website after he/she clicked on an organic search engine listing on Google.

#2 Paid keywords referral data – It tells you which search term was used by a person to visit your website after he/she clicked on a paid search engine listing on Google. This paid search engine listing is the PPC ads you see on Google.

Google has been hiding the ‘organic keyword referral data’ since October 2011 by encrypting its organic search data. This has been done in the name of protecting user privacy.

But the real agenda of Google is most probably to force more marketers/advertisers to use Google ads, as optimizing search campaigns without keyword referral data is not very effective.

Google does not hide the ‘paid keyword referral data’. It hides only the ‘organic keyword referral data’.

All web analytics tools (including Google Analytics) no longer report the ‘organic keyword referral data’ from Google search engines in their reports.

Google Analytics reports ‘not provided’ in place of actual keywords in your organic search traffic reports.

But since Google does not hide the ‘paid keyword referral data’, Google Analytics reports the keywords which generated traffic, sales, and other conversions on your website through Google Ads reports.

How to find not provided keywords in Google Analytics?

To find not provided keywords in Google Analytics, follow the steps below:

Step-1: Login to your Google Analytics account and then navigate to your main reporting view.

Step-2: Navigate to Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords report:

organic keywords google analytics

Step-3: Look for ‘(not provided)’ in the ‘Keyword’ column:

not provided keywords google analytics 1

Another way to find not provided keywords in Google Analytics is by navigating to  Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels report:

channels report

and then clicking on the ‘Organic Search’ link:

organic search
not provided keywords google analytics 1

If you look at your organic keywords report of the last one month, the majority of organic search keywords (usually 90%+) are being reported as ‘Not Provided’.

So the not provided keywords is a big issue to fix.

Why unlocking Google Analytics Not provided keywords is important?

What are people searching for to find your product?

If you have a solid answer to this question, then you are on your way to getting a very high conversion rate (provided you have the right landing page) from your organic search marketing campaigns.

However, the problem is, how do you find the keywords in the world of not provided where Google is deliberating hiding almost all of the keywords data?

Related article: How to find not provided keywords in Google Analytics?

How to unlock Google Analytics Not Provided Keywords?

The following methods can help you in unlocking/extracting the keywords which are now hiding behind ‘not provided’:

  1. Use the ‘Keyword Hero’ tool (the best method)
  2. Use ‘Search Console Queries’ report in Google Analytics
  3. Use competitive analysis tools like ‘SEMRush’ for keywords mining
  4. Use Internal site search data
  5. Run Non-branded Paid search campaigns
  6. Run page level surveys
  7. Use offline data to do keyword research
  8. Go beyond the traditional Keyword Research Tools
  9. Determine how the products are described on your website
  10. Determine how people describe your products both online and offline
  11. Determine how sales and marketing people describe and sell your products
  12. Determine how people naturally link out to your website
  13. Determine how competitors describe their products
  14. Understand Searchers’ Intent & Capture it in the early stage of the buying cycle.
  15. Use historical keywords data in your Google Analytics reports

#1 Use the Keyword Hero tool to unlock Google Analytics Not Provided Keywords

Step-1: Make sure you have got an active Google Search Console account with at least one month of historical data.

Step-2: Add your Google Search Console account to your Google Analytics property.

Step-3: Login to your Google Analytics account.

Step-4: Get ‘edit’ permission at the account level so that you can add a new property to your GA account.

Step-5: Navigate to https://keyword-hero.com/

Step-6: Click on ‘sign in with Google’ button:

sign in with google button

Step-7: Choose your Google Account:

choose your google account

Step-8: Grant Keyword Hero the ‘edit’ permission by clicking on the ‘Allow’ button:

grant keyword hero permission

Step-9: Grant Keyword Hero the permission to view your Google Analytics data by clicking on the ‘Allow’ button:

grant keyword hero permission2

Step-10: Grant Keyword Hero the permission to view and manage search console data for your verified websites by clicking on the ‘Allow’ button:

grant keyword hero permission3

Step-11: Grant Keyword Hero the permission to view search console data for your verified websites by clicking on the ‘Allow’ button:

grant keyword hero permission4

Step-12: Click on the ‘Allow’ button once again to confirm your choices:

confirm your choices1
confirm your choices2

Step-13: Select the search console property that belongs to your website by clicking on the ‘Select’ button next to it:

connect search console

Step-14: Click on the ‘NEXT’ button.

Step-15: Select the Google Account for your new Keyword Hero property and then click on the ‘Create’ button:

create mirrored account

Note: The new property created by keyword hero tool will be added to the selected GA account.

Step-16: Choose your Google Account:

choose your google account

Step-17: Click on the ‘Allow’ button:

keyword hero wants to access your google analytics account

Step-18: Choose your Keyword Hero plan:

choose keyword hero plan

Select a Keyword Hero plan based on the organic search traffic your website gets each month or the number of web pages you want keyword hero tool to report on.

If your website gets less than 2000 organic sessions a month then choose the ‘Little Hero’ plan which is free to use. 

If your website gets more than 2000 but less than 10,000 organic sessions a month then choose the ‘Big Hero’ plan which is free to use for the first 2 weeks and then cost $9/month. This plan is good to analyze up to 250 web pages (aka URLs) of your website which get organic search traffic.

If your website gets more than 10,000 but less than 50,000 organic sessions a month then choose the ‘Giant Hero’ plan which is free to use for the first 2 weeks and then cost $49/month. This plan is good to analyze up to 500 web pages of your website which get organic search traffic.

If your website gets more than 50,000 but less than 250,000 organic sessions a month then choose the ‘Ultimate Hero’ plan which is free to use for the first 2 weeks and then cost $149/month. This plan is good to analyze up to 2500 web pages of your website which get organic search traffic.

For the majority of websites, the ‘Giant hero’ plan is good enough as it checks the top 500 most frequently visited web pages from the organic search for the organic keywords referrer data:

giant hero plan

However, the plan you choose will eventually depend upon the number of web pages you want ‘keyword hero’ to analyze and/or the volume of keywords data you are after.

Note: The Conversion tracking is only available for paid plans. You can also select ‘Little Hero’ plan which is free to use if you just want to get your feet wet and see whether it really works for you.

Step-19: Click on the ‘GO W/O CREDIT CARD‘ button.

You will now see the message “ You need to wait up to 24 hours before you see your data in your new Keyword Hero property”. Below this message, there is a slide show. Go through all of the slides one by one to understand, what to expect from this tool:

slide show

The data in your keyword hero property is going to be three days out of date:

three day latency

Step-20: Once you have watched the slide show then enter your email address to get weekly email notifications of your website SEO performance and then click on the ‘done’ button:

done button

Step-21: Click on the wheel button next to the ‘View Analytics’ button:

wheel button

Step-22: Click on ‘Change Settings’ from the drop down menu:

change settings

Step-23: Scroll down and then click on the ‘Select Tracking’ drop down menu:

select tracking

Step-24: From the drop-down menu at the bottom, select the type of conversion you want ‘keyword hero’ to analyze:

select tracking2

Note: You can select only one conversion at a time. I tend to select ‘use ecommerce tracking’.

Step-25: Click on the ‘Save’ button.

Step-26: After 24 hours have elapsed, navigate back to the ‘keyword hero’ tool and then click on the ‘View Analytics’ button next to your website:

view analytics

You will now be automatically redirected to the ‘Channels’ report of the ‘keyword view’ of the new GA property:

unlock not provided keywords data 1

You should now be able to see most or all the keyword referral data which were previously hiding behind the ‘not provided’ keywords.

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How does Keyword Hero work?

What I understand is, they pull the search data from Google Search Console, use several data sources (Google Analytics, rank monitoring tools, bing search API, browser extension data, etc) for keywords clustering and classification and then match it with the GA session data using some machine learning algorithm.

If you want to go in great technical detail regarding its working then here is the 33 pages long description.

Just like you, I was sceptical about this tool. But I gave it a shot. They provide a free 14-day trial, so there is no harm in trying it. And it really does work. I can now see thousands of new organic keywords referral data that were earlier hiding behind the ‘not provided’ keywords.

What about the accuracy of the data from the keyword hero tool?

First, be glad that you are able to see organic keywords referral data once again in GA. Something is better than nothing and right now that nothing is ‘not provided’. As far as I see the keywords reported by this tool in GA are pretty accurate.

I do not trust the search engine ranking positions data and other website usage data provided by this tool. But then I do not trust the search engine ranking positions provided by any rank monitoring tool.

Advantages of using the Keyword Hero tool

Following are the advantages of using this tool:

#1 You can see organic keywords data and correlate this data with sales and other conversions in your Google Analytics reports. This will help you in better understanding the performance of your organic search campaigns.

#2 By using organic keywords data you can optimize your landing pages for the keywords which are most likely to result in traffic, sales, leads or some other conversions.

#3 You can develop more content around the organic keywords that have already proven to generate traffic and conversions for your website.

#4 You can once again understand the performance of your branded organic keywords in terms of generating traffic and conversions.

#5 You can once again compare the performance of branded and non branded keywords with each other.

#6 Once you understand the keywords for which your website is ranking really well on Google, you can stop bidding on them in Google Adwords and can greatly reduce your ad spend.

#7 You can discover new keywords for your paid search campaigns. So if an organic keyword is performing really well for your business but your website is not ranking very high for it, you can target that keyword through your paid search ad campaigns.

#8 You can see the search engine ranking position (SERP) of your website on Google for each keyword. This can help you in improving your SERP for profitable keywords and increase sales through organic search.

#9 By using the ‘keyword hero’ tool, you get a competitive advantage as a marketer/advertiser. I mean how many marketers know that they can get back organic keywords data back in Google Analytics. Only a handful. The majority think that organic keywords referral data is gone for good.

#10 Keyword hero provides some ready to download keywords dashboards:

keyword hero dashboards

#11 When you use the ‘keyword hero’ tool for the first time, it creates a new GA property and a new reporting view called the ‘keyword view’. This view comes with ecommerce tracking enabled.

So if you are currently using ecommerce tracking, the ecommerce data will automatically start flowing in the ‘keyword view’. If you are using enhanced ecommerce tracking then you would first need to enable Enhanced Ecommerce Reporting in the ‘keyword view’ before you can see enhanced ecommerce tracking data:

enable enhanced ecommerce reporting

#12 The keyword hero tool is not always able to resolve the ‘not provided’ keywords. When that is the case, it reports ‘not provided’ keywords but still provides more details about the type of ‘not provided’ traffic:

types of not provided keywords

(not provided)_bing is the ‘not provided keywords’ traffic from the Bing search engine.

(not provided)_yahoo is the ‘not provided keywords’ traffic from the Yahoo search engine.

(not provided)_subdomain_add_searchconsole is the ‘not provided keywords’ traffic from the subdomain which is not added to the keywords hero account.

Then there is some other information (not shown in the screenshot above) about ‘not provided’ keywords which are displayed by this tool in GA reports:

‘(not set)’ – tracking error or spam

(automatic matching) – AdWords information

#13 When you use the ‘keyword hero’ tool for the first time, it creates a new GA property and this property comes with following custom dimensions and custom metrics built-in:

custom dimensions metrics keyword hero

You can use these dimensions and metrics straight away once you start seeing data in your ‘keyword view’ reports.

#14 Keyword hero automatically emails weekly SEO performance report for your website which includes:

  • Your daily organic Google Sessions
  • Your Top 10 keywords
  • Your Top 10 mobile keywords
  • Your Top 10 desktop/tablet keywords
  • Your Top 10 organic landing pages
  • Search engine traffic report

Limitations of the Keyword Hero tool

#1 It does not completely fix the problem of ‘not provided’ keywords. You will continue to see some ‘not provided’ keywords in your reports.

#2  In order to use this tool, you would need an active Google search console account with historical data and this account must be linked to your live Google Analytics property.

#3 If you are a low traffic website (less than 100 sessions a day) or you get the majority of your website traffic through paid marketing campaigns then this tool won’t be much beneficial for you.

#4 If you are a high traffic website and you continue to use their free plan or use a plan which is too small for the number of web pages you want ‘keyword hero’ to analyze then it can negatively affect your keywords data quality. You are also more likely, to continue to see, a high percentage of ‘not provided’ keywords in your GA reports. If you want to minimize the percentage of ‘not provided’ keywords in your reports then use the right plan.

#5 This tool creates a new GA property and sends all of the keywords data there. Now there are both advantages and disadvantages to that. The advantage is that the use of this tool does not skew your current analytics data. So if in the future you decide not to use this tool, it won’t affect your current analytics data. 

This disadvantage is that the new GA property does not inherit many configurations settings from your live GA property and views. What that means, if you have set up goals in your current GA view then they do not automatically transfer to the new GA property. So you would have to set up goals once again in the new GA property’s view (the ‘keyword view’).

If you have set up custom dimensions and metrics in your live GA property then those dimensions and metrics will not automatically transfer to the new GA property. So you would have to set up the custom dimensions and metrics once again for the new GA property.

Similarly, view filters, content groups, channel groups, calculated metrics, and many other configuration settings do not automatically transfer to the new GA property created by the ‘keyword hero’ tool.  So you would need to set them all up, all over again.

#6 When you use the ‘keyword hero’ tool it creates a new GA property and a new reporting view called the ‘keyword view’. This new view does not report data in real-time reports:

keyword view real time report

That is because the data reported by the ‘keyword hero’ tool is 3 days old.

#7 I do not trust the ‘keyword view’ data for anything other than keywords data. There are many data points that are currently not tracked accurately by the Keyword hero tool. For example:

data points

Case Study #1: How to see the average search engine ranking positions in Google Analytics

Though the ‘keyword hero’ tool you can see the average search engine ranking of your website on Google for each keyword.

To do that, follow the steps below:

Step-1: Navigate back to the ‘keyword hero’ tool and then click on the ‘View Analytics’ button next to your website:

view analytics button

You will now be automatically redirected to the ‘Channels’ report of the ‘keyword view’ of the new GA property.

Step-2: Click on the ‘Organic search’ link:

click on the organic search link

Step-3: Use the custom dimension named ‘Position’ as the secondary dimension:

custom dimension position

You can now see the average ranking position for each keyword:

average ranking position

Case Study #2: How to see the list of all the keywords which are sending traffic to a particular landing page

Step-1: Navigate to Behavior > Landing Pages report in the ‘keyword view’ of the new GA property created by ‘keyword hero’.

Step-2: Click on the link of the landing page for which you want to see the keywords data:

landing page

Step-3: Select ‘keyword’ as a primary dimension:

primary dimension keyword

You can then see the list of all the keywords which are generating traffic and conversions for the selected landing page.

That’s how you can use the ‘keyword hero’ tool.

#2 Use ‘Search Console Queries’ report in Google Analytics

The ‘Search Console queries’ report provides a lot of valuable keyword data.

You can access this report by navigating to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries in your Google Analytics view:

search console queries report

Through the ‘Queries’ report, you can determine the keywords for which your website is getting impressions and clicks. You can also determine the average position and CTR for these keywords.

Note: If you can’t see any data in your ‘search console queries’ reports then it is because you have not linked your Google search console account with your Google Analytics account.

You can get more information regarding such integration from this article: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1120006?hl=en

#3 Use competitive analysis tools like ‘SEMRush’ for keywords mining

semrush

You may not know but SEMRush also provides keyword referral data.

SEMRush updates its database once a month and returns those organic keywords for a web page that are in its database and for which a webpage ranks in Google top 20. According to SEMRush, they analyze the rankings of 95+ million most profitable and popular keywords.

SEMRush can be used to determine (not provided) data even today. Through tools like SEMRush, you can determine the keywords (both paid and organic) which are generating traffic and revenue for your website or your competitors’ websites.

If certain keywords have proved to be profitable for your competitors then they should be profitable for you too. Focus on keywords that have proved to work.

Note: You won’t get all of the (not provided) data through this method. SEMRush analyses the rankings of only those keywords which are in its database.

#4 Use Internal site search data

Place a search box at the top of every page on your website and allow users to search contents on your website:

search box 1

This type of search is known as the internal site search as this search is taking place on your website.

Now set up and configure site search in your Google Analytics account. You can get more details regarding this set up from this article: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1012264?hl=en-GB.

Once the site search is setup and configured, and a couple of hours/days have elapsed, open the ‘Search Terms’ report (under Behaviour > Site Search in your Google Analytics account):

search terms report

This report will provide you with a lot of valuable keywords data. You can then target these keywords by developing content around them.

#5 Run Non-branded Paid search campaigns

It is highly unlikely that Google or any search engine will ever hide the paid keyword referral data from advertisers. So run paid search campaigns on Google and Bing.

Once you have got the PPC data in your Google Analytics reports then open the ‘Search Queries’ report (under Acquisition > Google Ads in your GA account) to determine the keywords which are generating sales and conversions for your website:

search queries report

Then target these keywords through SEO by developing content around them.

Note: There is no guarantee that what works for PPC, may work equally well for SEO. But by and large, this strategy works and it works really well.

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  • Understand the customer purchase journey across devices
  • Determine the most effective marketing channels for investment

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#6 Run page level surveys

Page-level survey tools like Qualaroo can provide you with a lot of valuable keywords data, provided you use these tools correctly.

For example, do not ask questions like “which keywords you used to visit this landing page?” Not only does this question sounds odd but you won’t get many replies either.

Ask questions like:

  • What is the purpose of your visit to our website today?
  • Were you able to complete your task? If not then why you were not able to complete the task?

These two questions always provide me with a lot of keywords ideas every single day.

For example, if you get a lot of survey responses like “I was looking to get more details about conversion tracking through Google Tag Manager” then you know that you have to write an article that covers this topic in depth.

Satisfy your visitors’ queries and you will get conversions. Page-level surveys will also help you in understanding searchers’ perception of your content and brand.

#7 Use offline data to do keyword research

Many marketers/analysts overlook the offline data available to them like:

  1. Product catalogues
  2. Product brochures
  3. User guides
  4. Marketing material (flyers, posters, print ads)
  5. Sales pitch used by sales and marketing people
  6. Sales pitch used in radio ads, TV ads or banner ads
  7. Slides used in a sales presentation
  8. Sales pitch used in company newsletters or magazines

All of these data sources can provide tons of valuable keyword ideas.

Sales and marketing people are in constant touch with existing and potential clients and the way they describe and sell their products is probably the way people talk about your products.

You can get this valuable insight only through the offline data sources mentioned above.

#8 Go beyond the traditional Keyword Research Tools

Many traditional keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner generally report traffic only for fat head keywords (i.e. the keywords which seem to be getting high search volume).

On top of that, the tools’ search volume data is highly inaccurate.

For example, Google is notorious for showing inflated search volume and this can be due to its vested interest to keep keywords competitive for possible high bidding by Adwords advertisers.

It also fails to report all those keywords which have low or very low search volume.

Every SEO campaign I have worked on gets the majority of its organic search traffic through such low volume keywords (also known as the long-tail keywords).

The majority of traffic comes from long-tail keywords.

Still, marketers remain busy targeting fat head keywords (like care insurance, travel London, etc) as Google reports high search volume for them.

Hitwise.com conducted research on ‘long tail of search’ a few years ago and came out with these fantastic results:

If you had a monopoly over the top 1,000 search terms across all search engines (which is impossible), you’d still be missing out on 89.4% of all search traffic.

There’s so much traffic in the tail it is hard to even comprehend. To illustrate, if a search were represented by a tiny lizard with a one-inch head, the tail of that lizard would stretch for 221 miles.

So if you just rely on keywords tools like Google Keyword Planner for your keyword research, you will miss out on a great deal of traffic that comes from targeting long-tail keywords.

And above all fat head keywords are extremely competitive and difficult to rank for. Your website may not rank for them for years.

If you work with the mindset of targeting long-tail keywords, you will no longer select keywords just on the basis of their search volume.

You will select keywords that are frequently used by your visitors before they convert on your website.

#9 Determine how the products are described on your website

Just by reading a product description, you can determine several relevant keywords for the product.

For example, the following is a product description from an ecommerce website that sell shirts:

This shirt will keep your long sleeves and your awesome style in place.
Buttoned stand-up Mandarin collar

FIT: Classic fit
FABRIC: Cotton Blend
COLOR: Black / White

Just by reading this description, you can determine keywords like long sleeve shirts, black shirts, white shirts, mandarin collar shirts, etc.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
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  • Understand the customer purchase journey across devices
  • Determine the most effective marketing channels for investment

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#10 Determine how people describe your products both online and offline

Your customers do not always use the search terms you think they use (or as Google Keyword Planner Tool suggests) to find your products.

For example, you may be struggling hard to rank for the keyword ‘car insurance Southampton‘ while your client is in fact searching for the keyword ‘car insurance for young drivers Southampton‘.

The former is a competitive keyword and may not always produce the best results in terms of sales or conversion as it can fail to meet the intent of a searcher who is looking for a specific type of car insurance.

Whereas the latter keyword is easier to rank for and can result in higher conversions or sales.

Therefore it is very important that you understand how people describe your products and what they are looking for or are interested in.

You can get this insight by scanning:

  1. Product reviews on industry review sites.
  2. Reviews on product pages of your site.
  3. Comments on: industry news sites, journals, and magazines.
  4. Product reviews on popular retail sites like ebay.com, amazon.com, etc.
  5. Comments on industry blogs and youtube videos
  6. Customers feedback (you can get it through surveys or through your customer support team)

#11 Determine how sales and marketing people describe and sell your products

Sales and marketing people are in constant touch with your existing and potential clients and can provide a great deal of keywords’ insight. The way they describe and sell their products is probably the way people talk about your products.

You can get this valuable insight by scanning;

  1. Product Catalogs
  2. Product Brochures
  3. User guides
  4. Marketing Material (flyers, posters, print ads)
  5. Sales pitch used by sales and marketing people
  6. Sales pitch used in Radio ads, TV ads or banner ads
  7. Slides used in a sales presentation
  8. Sales pitch used in Company’s newsletters or magazine

The way people naturally link out to you can tell a great deal about what they think of your product/brand.

For e.g., if a lot of people link out to your product as ‘cheap interactive whiteboard’ instead of ‘ 78 inches Gin interactive power board’, then you should seriously think of optimizing your product page for that keyword.

You can determine the anchor text of your incoming links through tools like ‘open site explorer‘.

#13 Determine how competitors describe their products

Competitive analysis helps in all aspects of internet marketing and keyword research is no exception. However here by competitors, I mean key industry players.

The way they describe their products, choose keywords to target and the way people talk about their products can give you a good insight into ‘what to target’.

You can get this valuable insight by scanning:

  1. Reviews on product pages of your competitors’ site and review sites.
  2. Their product catalogs, brochures and user guides.
  3. Sales pitch used by them in their marketing material and radio/tv/banner ads.
  4. Use the SEM Rush tool to quickly determine which organic and paid keywords are actually driving traffic and sales to your competitors’ website.

#14 Understand Searchers’ Intent & Capture it in the early stage of the buying cycle.

In keyword research, the most important thing to consider is your searchers’ intent.

What is their state of mind while they are performing a search. Are they searching to buy a product or are they searching to make a purchase decision?

When it comes to determining searchers’ intent, the search data shows the highest indicator of intent followed by demographic data and behavioral data.

As an SEO it a wise to capture your prospects in the early stage of the buying cycle when they are making a purchase decision through keywords like ‘which is the best ….‘ or ‘where to buy ……‘.

Such keywords are easier to rank for and you have less competition to face.

But once your prospect is in the full buying mode, he will search for keywords which you may find very difficult to rank for, expensive to bid on and are predominantly captured by big brands like Amazon.

That is why it is wise to capture your prospect early in the buying cycle esp. if you have got low marketing budget/resources.

#15 Use historical keywords data in your Google Analytics reports

historical-data3

Many of you have been using Google Analytics for years. And in all of these years, your GA account has acquired tons of keywords data.

Use this historical keywords data to determine keywords that have proved to generate traffic, conversions, and sales for your website. Export this data and save it on your hard disk/cloud for future use. Google is not going to archive your historical data forever. So do it today.

Google Analytics ‘Not Provided’ Keywords Analysis

What the point is of measuring the impact of “not provided” keywords? How would you use this info to optimize your website or gain customer insight?

First of all, the point of any analysis is to gain insight.

Once we get the insight, we then need to determine whether this insight is useful or not. Insights are generally useful because you get to know your business/campaign better.

But what is even more useful is the ‘actionable insight’.

Can we take any action on the basis of the insight we have gathered? In our case, the answer is ‘yes’.

It is a common practice that before we fix a problem we assess the size of the problem.

Yes ‘not provided’ is a problem. It is a big problem for marketers who rely on keywords to optimize their marketing campaigns.

The first step toward assessing the size of the ‘not provided’ problem is to measure the total economic value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords. If this economic value is small or negligible for your business then you don’t need to worry about ‘not provided’ keywords yet.

However, if the total economic value is large or very large or the performance of your marketing campaigns is deeply affected by ‘not provided’ keywords then you have got work to do.

For example, if only a few organic branded conversions occurred because of the role of ‘not provided’ keywords in the conversion process then we can conclude that the majority of ‘not provided’ keywords are non-branded and our acquisition strategy is weak.

We are targeting keywords that have low conversion potential for our business.

This conclusion is based partially on the observations of customers’ online behavior over the years and partially on the assumption that the majority of people eventually convert through branded keywords.

People generally start their conversion journey by searching for non-branded keywords (provided they are not already familiar/loyal to your brand).

But as their understanding of what they are looking for increases, they refine their search queries.

Also, people rarely buy on their very first visit. They do comparison shopping, check websites for reviews; look for better deals before they make a purchase decision.

So when they return to your website and convert, the source of traffic is generally either direct or branded keywords (because branded keywords are easy to remember).

Because of this customers’ behavior, the majority of conversions are attributed to direct traffic and branded keywords.

So if the majority of conversions on your website are occurring as a result of direct traffic and branded keywords then it could be a sign of maintaining a strong brand image.

Contrary to this if the majority of conversions on your website are occurring as a result of non-branded keywords then it means you are either a new business or your brand retention is poor.

These are some of the useful insights you can get from the analysis of ‘not provided’ keywords.

‘Not provided’ keywords do not fall into the category of either branded keywords or non-branded keywords.

Therefore they deserve their own separate category and analysis called the ‘not provided’ keywords analysis.

In a world of multi-channel marketing, people are exposed to multiple marketing channels (organic search, paid search, display, social, etc) before they make a purchase or complete a conversion.

Therefore it is important that we calculate the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on all the marketing channels and not just on organic search.

In the next few minutes, I will show you, how to calculate the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on:

  1. Organic Branded Keywords
  2. Organic Non-Branded Keywords
  3. Paid Branded Keywords
  4. Paid Non-Branded Keywords
  5. Direct Traffic
  6. Social Media Traffic
  7. Email Traffic
  8. Affiliate Traffic
  9. Display Traffic
  10. Assisted Conversions
  11. Last Interaction Conversion
  12. Total economic value

Before we start our calculations, we need to create a new ‘custom channel grouping’ in Multi-Channel funnel reports in Google Analytics.

Some background information about Channel Labels and Channel Grouping

A channel label is a label applied to a digital marketing channel. For example ‘paid search’, ‘organic search’, ‘social’, ‘display’ etc are all examples of channel labels.

There are two types of channel labels in Google Analytics: Default Channel Labels and Custom Channel Labels.

The default channel labels are the predefined channel labels. For example: ‘paid search’, ‘organic search’, ‘referral’, ‘display’, ‘email’, ‘social’, ‘direct’ and ‘other advertising’ are default channel labels.

The custom channel labels are the labels defined by a user.

Branded keywords and non-branded keywords are examples of custom channel labels.

channel-labels

Channel Grouping is a set of channel labels.

There are two types of channel grouping in Google Analytics: Basic Channel Grouping and Custom Channel Grouping.

  • The ‘basic channel grouping’ is the set of predefined channel labels.
  • The ‘custom channel grouping’ is the channel grouping created by a user.

To learn more about channel grouping in GA, read this article: Channel grouping in Google Analytics

Creating Custom Channel Grouping for advanced keywords analysis

Follow the steps below to create a new custom channel grouping for advanced keywords analysis:

Step-1: Login to your GA account and then navigate to the GA view which contains at least 30 days of historical data. More the better.

Note: If you use the keyword hero tool then use the GA view set up by the tool, as you will see more keyword data there.

Step-2: Navigate to the ‘Top Conversions Paths’ report (under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels) in Google Analytics:

top conversion paths report

Step-3: Scroll down the report and then click on the ‘Channel Groupings’ down drop menu:

channel groupings

Step-4: Click on the ‘Create a custom channel grouping…’ link from the drop-down menu:

create custom channel grouping

Step-5: In the ‘create or edit channel grouping’ dialog box, enter the name of the channel grouping and then click on the ‘Define a new Channel’ button:

define a new channel

We are going to create 5 new channels in total for this custom channel grouping.

Step-6: Enter ‘Organic B Keywords’ (which stands for organic branded keywords) as the name of the new channel and then set up the rules as shown in the screenshot below:

organic branded keywords 1

In the ‘matches regex’ text box, enter the regular expression which matches all of your branded keywords.

Here we are defining all those keywords as branded organic keywords that contain your brand name in the keyword phrase and the medium of the traffic is organic.

To learn more about regular expressions, read this article: Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager Regex (Regular Expressions) Guide

Since organic reminds me of vegetables, I have selected the color ‘dark green’ for this channel label.

Step-7: Once you have set up the conditions for the rule, click on the ‘Done’ button.

Step-8: Again click on the ‘Define a new channel’ button.

Step-9: Enter ‘Paid B Keywords’ (which stands for Paid Branded Keywords) as the name of the new channel and then set up the rules as shown in the screenshot below:

paid branded keywords

In the ‘matches regex’ text box, enter the regular expression which matches all of your branded keywords.

Here we are defining all those keywords as branded paid keywords that contain your brand name in the keyword phrase and the medium of the traffic is either cpc or ppc.

Step-10: Once you have set up the conditions for the rule, click on the ‘Done’ button.

Step-11: Again click on the ‘Define a new channel’ button.

Step-12: Enter ‘Organic NB Keywords’ (which stands for Organic Non-Branded Keywords) as the name of the new channel and then set up the rules as shown in the screenshot below:

organic non branded keywords

In the ‘matches regex’ text box, enter the regular expression which matches all of your branded keywords.

Here we are defining all those keywords as organic non-branded keywords which:

  • do not contain your brand name in the keyword phrase
  • do not contain ‘not provided’ keywords and
  • the medium of the traffic is organic.

Step-13: Once you have set up the conditions for the rule, click on the ‘Done’ button.

Step-14: Again click on the ‘Define a new channel’ button.

Step-15: Enter ‘Paid NB Keywords’ (which stands for Paid Non-Branded Keywords) as the name of the new channel and then set up the rules as shown in the screenshot below:

paid non branded keywords

In the ‘matches regex’ text box, enter the regular expression which matches all of your branded keywords.

Here we are defining all those keywords as paid non-branded keywords which:

  • do not contain your brand name in the keyword phrase
  • do not contain ‘not provided’ keywords and
  • the medium of the traffic is either cpc or ppc.

Step-16: Once you have set up the conditions for the rule, click on the ‘Done’ button.

Step-17: Again click on the ‘Define a new channel’ button.

Step-18: Enter ‘Not Provided Keywords’ as the name of the new channel and then set up the rules as shown in the screenshot below:

not provided keywords

Step-19: Once you have set up the conditions for the rule, click on the ‘Done’ button.

Once you have set up the new channels, you will now see a screen similar to the one below:

advanced keywords analysis

Step-20: Drag rules to specify the order in which they should apply:

drag rules

Step-21: Click on the ‘save’ button.

You should now see a screen similar to the one below:

channel grouping keywords analysis

Calculating the Impact of Not Provided keywords on Organic Branded Keywords

Step-1: Make sure that the custom channel grouping ‘Advanced Keywords Analysis’ is selected and you are viewing the ‘Top Conversions Paths’ report (under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels) in Google Analytics.

Step-2: Select the time period for which you want to do the analysis.

Step-3: Click on the ‘advanced’ filter in the reporting interface:

advanced filter google analytics

Step-4: Set the conditions as shown below:

not provided organic branded keyword

Step-5: Click on the ‘Apply’ button.

You can now see the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on organic branded keywords:

not provided organic branded keyword2

From the report, you can determine all the conversion paths in which ‘not provided’ keywords played an important role along with the ‘organic branded keywords’ in initiating, assisting or completing a conversion.

Without the role of the ‘not provided’ keywords in the conversion process, these conversions would not have occurred in the first place.

Calculating the Impact of Not Provided keywords on Organic Non-Branded Keywords

Step-1: Make sure that the custom channel grouping ‘Advanced Keywords Analysis’ is selected and you are viewing the ‘Top Conversions Paths’ report (under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels) in Google Analytics.

Step-2: Select the time period for which you want to do the analysis.

Step-3: Click on the ‘advanced’ filter in the reporting interface and then set the conditions as shown below:

not provided organic non branded

Step-4: Click on the ‘Apply’ button.

You can now see the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on organic non-branded keywords:

not provided organic non branded2

From the report, you can determine all the conversion paths in which ‘not provided’ keywords played an important role along with the ‘organic non-branded keywords’ in initiating, assisting or completing a conversion.

Without the role of the ‘not provided’ keywords in the conversion process, these conversions would not have occurred in the first place.

The number of such conversions was 1251 and the total value of these conversions was $9,382.58

Calculating the Impact of Not Provided keywords on Direct Traffic

Step-1: Make sure that the custom channel grouping ‘Advanced Keywords Analysis’ is selected and you are viewing the ‘Top Conversions Paths’ report (under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels) in Google Analytics.

Step-2: Select the time period for which you want to do the analysis.

Step-3: Select ‘Source/Medium Path’ as a secondary dimension.

Step-4: Click on the ‘advanced’ filter in the reporting interface and then set the conditions as shown below:

not provided keywords direct traffic

Step-5: Click on the ‘Apply’ button.

You can now see the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on ‘direct traffic’:

not provided keywords direct traffic2

From the report, you can determine all the conversion paths in which ‘not provided’ keywords played an important role along with the ‘direct traffic’ in initiating, assisting or completing a conversion.

Without the role of the ‘not provided’ keywords in the conversion process, these conversions would not have occurred in the first place.

The number of such conversions was 84,219 and the total value of these conversions was $814,667.41

Related Article: Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

Similarly, you can calculate the Impact of Not Provided keywords on:

  • Social Media Traffic
  • Email Traffic
  • Affiliate Traffic and
  • Display Traffic.

All you have to do is to make some changes in your advanced filter.

Calculating the total economic value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords

The total economic value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords is calculated as

Assisted Conversion Value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords + Last Interaction Conversion Value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords

We can determine the assisted conversion and last interaction conversion values through the ‘Assisted conversions’ report (under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels) in Google Analytics.

Follow the steps below to calculate the total economic value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords:

Step-1: Navigate to the ‘Assisted conversions’ report in your Google Analytics account.

Step-2: Select the custom channel grouping ‘Advanced Keywords Analysis’.

Step-3: Select the time period for which you want to do the analysis.

Step-4: Apply the on-page filter ‘keywords’ so that you can see only the custom channels in your report.

You should now see a screen like the one below:

total economic value not provided keywords 3

You can now determine the number of assisted conversions and last interaction conversions generated by ‘not provided’ keywords along with their conversion value.

Just sum up the assisted conversion value and last interaction conversion value generated by ‘not provided’ keywords and you will get the total economic value generated by the ‘not provided’ keywords.

In our case, it is:

$40,420.41 + $21,726.22 = $62,146.63

Who would have imagined that the total economic value of ‘not provided’ keywords could be $62k?

Similarly, can determine the total economic value of:

  • organic branded keywords
  • organic non branded keywords
  • paid branded keywords
  • paid non branded keywords.
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About the Author

Himanshu Sharma

  • Founder, OptimizeSmart.com
  • Over 15 years of experience in digital analytics and marketing
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