Optimizing organic search campaigns without keyword referral data

Optimizing organic search campaigns without keyword referral data

The advent of attribution models and multi channels funnels in my career was a turning point. I soon realized that everyone (I am no exception) is doing analytics all wrong and I should take analytics tips floating across the net with a pinch of salt mainly because they never really take multi touch attributions into account.

Since then all standard analytics reports have started looking substandard to me and I have been looking for radically new ways to use analytics data to optimize my campaigns. First step was coming up with my own attribution model: Proportional Multi touch Attribution Modeling which is a daring attempt to assign values to multiple touches.

Now I am taking the second big step by daring to optimize Organic Search campaigns without keyword referral data from Google Analytics or any other analytics software. After lot of thought and analyzing the way, I use analytics data for optimizing campaigns for ‘not provided’ keywords, I have come to the conclusion that:

We can survive without keyword referral data. The journey is not going to be as smooth as it used to be. But we can still make progress.

Here is how:

‘Not Provided’ Model for optimizing Organic Search Campaigns


Step-1: Do keyword research the way I have recommended above.

Step-2: Develop contents to target the keywords you have determined through keyword research. Optimize your product landing pages for these keywords.

Step-3-: Do content marketing. Acquire links.

Step-4: Monitor your organic search rankings for targeted keywords through tools like Authority Labs. I know search engine rankings don’t mean much these days because of personalization. But it is still a good way to measure and improve the organic search performance.

Step-5: Monitor performance at the page level instead of the keyword level. Here comes the twist. Up to now you have been monitoring performance of your organic campaigns at the keywords level.

In a not provided world you no longer have access to any organic keywords referral data.  So instead of determining the performance of individual keywords you need to determine and optimize the performance of individual pages.

You can do this through ‘page value’ metrics. Through this metric you can determine whether the content of the page is adding any value to your business goals and bottom line.


Source: Optimizing Contents for Sales and Conversions through Profit Index

Monitor your pages for increase in the ‘page value’ over time. If ‘page value’ of a web page is increasing over time then it means its performance is improving.

Step-6: If your landing pages are not performing well then optimize them for conversions through ‘landing page optimization’. Check out this article: How to reduce bounce rate in Google Analytics to improve your landing page performance.

Repeat steps 1 to 6.



Let us suppose through keyword research you determined that the keywords:’ KW-1’ and ‘KW-2’ can be most profitable for your product say ‘PRD-A’. So you optimized the product landing page for the keywords. You tracked the organic search ranking for these keywords to measure your SEO efforts.

Then you monitored the ‘page value’ of the landing page to measure its performance. If you don’t see any improvement in page value despite of being in top 10 of organic search results for your targeted keywords then you need to do following:

1. Make sure that the landing page satisfies the visitors search query.

2. Re-valuate the keywords for which you optimized your landing page. Target new keyword variations or completely new keyword(s) by developing/updating the contents on the page.

3. Improve the conversion rate of your product landing page by following best practices of landing page optimization.

4. If you are marketing your product through multiple channels (PPC, Email, Social Media, Display etc) then assess the contribution of other channels and optimize accordingly. Here is a good article to get started: Google Analytics Attribution Modeling – Begineers Guide


Calculating the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords

Read this article: Google Analytics Not Provided Keywords Analysis – Ultimate Guide

This post explains how to calculate the impact of ‘not provided’ keywords on:

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


Other Posts you may find useful:

Announcement about my 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 OptimizeSmart.com

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 OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

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