Finding Your Keywords When Google Analytics Says They’re “Not Provided”

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Getting traffic from search, but don't know where it's coming from? Mine your data to get at your mystery keywords.

Still, in the name of protecting user privacy and personal data, it’s become a lot harder to find out what keywords people use in search through the years.

That doesn’t mean you are completely out in the cold, though. There are still ways to find out what keywords bring people to your site most often.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics has reporting that helps you find keywords from your organic traffic. It’s not as complete as it used to be, but nothing is a slam dunk in optimizing.

The security issues that cause the not provided problem make it harder to get useful SEO data from analytics, but not impossible. In fact, it means that it requires more thought and skill. That’s really good news for you, if you can be more thoughtful and skillful than your competition.


Connect to Search Console

The first thing to do is to connect Google Search Console. This will help feed more data into your Google Analytics reports. It combines the search data you get form SC, and brings it to the page-level reports.

Connecting GA and SC isn’t too hard to do. The official Google help doc for this will walk you through pretty easily. If you are or have been a client of mine for anything where I touch your analytics at all, this is already done.


Get keyword data from Google Analytics

Data in GA is sorted into 4 categories- Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, & Conversion. These 4 are then broken down into various reports that look at different aspects of your site and visitors.

These are the reports you’ll be looking at:

So let’s look at some useful reports inside GA:


Organic Search Report Acquisition— Overview— Organic Search (In table)

Here you can see various bits about your organic traffic.

  • Keywords (Some, not many)
  • What search engines are used
  • Landing pages for that traffic
  • Exit pages
  • Bounce rates
  • Several other metrics for quite a few dimensions


Landing Pages Report Behavior— Site Content— Landing Pages

Come to this report, and apply the “Organic Traffic” segment to the report. That will let you see what specific landing pages get the most organic traffic, and hence, which ones are doing the best in search.

This helps you in two ways:

  • Knowing which pages are performing well means you can look at the keywords and phrases you are using there, to get ideas for which ones you already rank for.
  • See which pages are under performing, and need your attention for optimization.


Search Queries Report Acquisition— Search Console— Queries

This report is the main source of data about what queries were used to find your site inside Google Analytics. You’ll see search queries that lead people to your site.


Site Search Report Behavior— Site Search— Search Terms

This one will require a bit of setup to get working. You’ll have to tell Google Analytics to track your site searches and set up a couple of variables inside GA.

The terms that people use for your site search may not be exactly the same ones they use to find you in Google. But that doesn’t mean they can’t help you get found in Google.

Get an idea of how your users phrase their searches, how they phrase the products or topics they are looking for, and what keywords might help you— help them— to help themselves… to the stuff you sell.

Qualitative Research

Talk to your buyers. You can hear direct from their mouths (or keyboards) just exactly how they found you.

You can use:

  • Pop-up surveys/polls
  • Email surveys
  • Direct phone conversations

Get in touch with buyers and find out what words they use and how they think about what you sell. You can even ask things like what they would search for in Google to find what you sell.

This helps you wrap your head around not just what words they use, but how they think about and phrase their searches.


If you want more ways to put your analytics data to good use, check out my Guide to Data-driven Decision Making.

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