How to get Not Provided keywords in Google Analytics


What people are searching for to find your product? If you have a solid answer to this question, then you are on your way to get a very high conversion rate (provided you have the right landing pages). 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?

What exactly is ‘not provided’ keyword?


Not provided keyword is a keyword without ‘keyword referral data’.

Introduction to Keyword Referral Data

The keyword referral data tells you which search term was used by a person to visit your website. For example, If someone visit your website by typing ‘new York city car hire’ on Google, then the keyword referral data is ‘new York city car hire’. Similarly, if someone visit your website by typing ‘valentine day cards’’ on Google, then the keyword referral data is ‘valentine day cards’.

Types of Keyword Referral Data

There are two types of keywords referral data: organic keywords referral data and paid keywords referral data:

  1. The organic keywords referral data 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. The paid keywords referral data 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. These paid search engine listing are 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 to force more marketers/advertisers to use Google PPC ads, as optimising 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) can no longer report the ‘organic keyword referral data’ from Google search engines in their reports. Google Analytics report ‘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 report the keywords which generated traffic, sales and conversions on your website through Adwords reports. You need to find alternate ways of uncovering new keyword opportunities.

#1: Use historical keywords data in your Google Analytics reports

historical-data3Many 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 which 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.

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


You may not know but SEMRush also provide keyword referral data. SEMRush update its database once a month and returns those organic keywords for a web page which 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 competitive tools like SEMRush you can determine the keywords (both paid and organic) which are generating traffic and revenue for your competitors. You can also use this tool for your own website. If these keywords have proved to be profitable for your competitors then they should be profitable for you too. Focus on keywords which 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.

#3: 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 > AdWords in your GA account) to determine the keywords which are generating sales and conversions for your website:


Then target these keywords through SEO by developing contents 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.

#4: Use ‘Search Console Queries’ report in Google Analytics

The ‘Search Console queries’ report provides 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

Through ‘Queries’ report you can determine the keywords for which your website is getting impressions and clicks. You can also determine 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 integrated your Google search console account with your Google Analytics account. You can get more information regarding such integration from this article:

#6: Use Internal site search

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

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

This report will provide you with lot of valuable keywords data.Then target these keywords by developing contents around them.

#7: Run page level surveys

Page level survey tools like Qualaroo can provide you with lot of valuable keywords data provided you use these tools correctly. Don’t 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 lot of keywords ideas every single day. For example if you get lot of survey response 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 which cover this topic in depth. Satisfy your visitors’ queries and you will get conversions. Page level surveys will also hep you in understanding searchers’ perception of your contents and brand.

#8: Use offline data to do keyword research

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

  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 sales presentation
  8. Sales pitch used in Company’s newsletter or magazine

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.

#9 Go beyond the Keyword Research Tools

Many traditional keyword tool like Google Keyword Planner generally reports 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 majority of its organic search traffic through such low volume keywords (also known as the long tail keywords). 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. conducted a research on ‘long tail of search’ few years ago and came out with this 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 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 rely on keywords tool like Google Keyword planner for your keyword research, you will miss out on a great deal of traffic which 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 mind set of targeting long tail keywords, you will no longer select keywords just on the basis of their search volume. You will select keywords which are frequently used by your visitors before they convert on your website. You will then use keywords research tools like internal site search, page level surveys and offline data.

#10 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, following is a product description from an ecommerce website which 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, mandarian collar shirts etc.

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

If you can find this, then this is a valuable insight for your keyword research. People not always use the search terms you think they use (or as Google Keyword Planner Tool suggest) to find your products. For e.g. 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 competitive keyword and may not always produce best results in terms of sales or conversion as it can fail to meet the intent of a searcher who is looking for 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 as mentioned above.
  3. Comments on industry news sites, journals and magazines.
  4. Product reviews on popular retail sites like, etc.
  5. Comments on industry blogs and youtube videos
  6. Customers feedback (you can get it through surveys or through your customer support team)

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

Sales and marketing people are in constant touch with 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 sales presentation
  8. Sales pitch used in Company’s newsletters or magazine

#13 Determine how people naturally link out to you

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 lot of people link out to your product as ‘cheap interactive whiteboard’ instead of ‘ 78 inch 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 ‘Anchor text’ tab in ‘open site explorer’.

#14 Determine how competitors describe their products

Competitive analysis helps in all aspects of internet marketing and keyword research is no exception. 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 of ‘what to target’. You can get this valuable insight by scanning:

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

#15 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 highest indicator of intent followed by demographic data and behavioral data. As a 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 ……’.

This is because these 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 budget/resources.

Announcement about my new books

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of and

I am also the author of three books:

error: Content is protected !!