Sep 13, 2015

Get Around Google's "Not Provided"

In Google Analytics, a few years ago you used to be able to see where all of your searches were coming to your website, and you could see the exact terms that they used to get there. Over the last few years, Google has slowly phased this out, essentially because they want people to pay for advertising (which is another way to get this keyword information).

If you don’t use Google AdWords, the keyword data will, for over 90% of searches, show up as (not provided). Have you seen that in your reports? This is what it looks like:

Getting around Not Provided in Google Analytics

However, there are ways around this, so that you can try and get the most accurate information about how people are getting to your website. This is useful because it makes you focus on what’s important, which is, of course, what your visitors are actually using your website for, and what they’re looking for.

The first way is with Google’s Webmaster Tools (recently renamed to Search Console). This is Google’s way of showing you everything it can see about your website. If you haven’t already set up Webmaster Tools, you should do it now. Google has some instructions on how to do this (don’t worry, it’s pretty straightforward).

Now what you need to do is link up your Webmaster Tools and your Google Analytics. This way, within the Google Analytics reports, if you go to Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords, you’ll be able to see the queries that have come through Webmaster Tools directly in Google Analytics.

Now Webmaster Tools search queries has its own limitations but it’s certainly a step up from having 93% of your organic traffic coming through with no idea of the terms used to get there.

Linking Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

1. Go to Google Analytics.

2. Log in and find your site.

3. Click “Admin” from the top navigation bar (far right).

4. Within the Admin section, under Product Linking, click “All Products”.

Viewing All Products in Google Analytics

5. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see Search Console. Click “Link Search Console”.

Linking to Search Console from Google Analytics

6. Click “Adjust”. In the Search Console settings, click “Edit”, and find your site to link them.

Setting up the search console

Linking Webmaster Tools site with Google Analytics

7. Click “Save”.

Unfortunately, the data’s not historical, so it won’t be able to show you what people have searched for in the past. It will only show it from this point onwards. But from now on, you’ll be able to see many of the search terms that people have used to get to your site. To see the data, go to Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries.

Using WMT Queries in Google Analytics

The other way is to set up a filter that essentially tells you what landing pages people are going to, which can give you a fair indication of what they’ve searched for. As you’ll see, usually about most of your traffic will end up at your home page. You can assume from this that they’re actually looking for branded terms. So, if you’re EBay, and they land on your home page, they’ve probably searched for EBay. If you’re Jim’s Plumbing, and users keep landing on your home page, they’ve probably searched for Jim’s Plumbing.

However, sometimes you might find that people are landing on the Contact Us page or another internal page that you wouldn’t have expected, so it’s good to set this filter up in addition to your Webmaster Tools linking.

Add the Not Provided Filter

1. Click “Admin” from the top right of the navigation bar in Google Analytics.

2. Go to Filters.

3. Click “Add Filter”

4. Enter the information as below.

Setting up the not provided filter in Google Analytics

5. Click “Save”.

Now again, this data is not historical, but it will show you information from the set up date onwards. Over the next week or so, your data should start looking more like this:

How the not provided filter changes your data

This will allow you to gain insight into the terms that people are using to get to your website.

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