The keyword (not provided) has been a thorn in the side of marketers everywhere since it began appearing in Google Analytics organic search data in 2011. And now that it is extending to advertiser data as well, it leaves a lot of people asking – how can we find out what keywords are really effective in our marketing strategy? While you'll no longer be able to connect the proverbial dots within Google Analytics using your keywords and conversions data, there are still some ways to find out.
Start with Google Webmaster Tools
If you have your website set up with Google Webmaster Tools, then head over to the Search Queries section under Search Traffic. Here, you'll see some of the top keywords you rank for in search and the number of clicks you receive from organic search engine users searching for them.
You can use this table to see what keywords offer the most impressions for your site and what their average SERPs positions and click through rates are. When you click on the keywords, you'll also be given the landing pages they match up with.
You can also use the Top Pages tab under search queries to see the landing pages that receive the most number of clicks / impressions in search. When you click on one of the pages, you'll get the different keywords that drive traffic to that page.
Interestingly enough, using my own website as an example, the number of clicks I see in Google Webmaster Tools for a certain date range correspond closely to the number of (not provided) keywords in Google Analytics. This might not apply to all websites, but it is something worth comparing in your own GWT vs. Google Analytics.
Many of the keywords in Google Webmaster Tools also did not show up in the Google Analytics organic keyword report for the same time period either, which really suggests some of the missing (not provided) keywords in GA are the ones accounted for in GWT.
Look at Your Top Landing Pages
Another good way to determine what keywords are driving traffic to your website is to look at your top landing pages in Google Analytics.
There's a good chance that you know what keywords you have optimized your landing pages for. So do a few search queries on your own to see which of those keywords bring these landing pages to the first page of search results. If that doesn't work…
Try Suggested Search & Searches Related To
If you find that you did not rank well for the main keywords you were targeting with your top landing pages, then you might want to go with a long tail keyword instead. If you look at the bottom of each search results page, you'll see searches related to the keyword you’re trying.
Maybe one of these is what led visitors to your page. You can also try the Google search box itself for suggested searches.
And for a larger variety of keywords, look at what Ubersuggest can dig up across the alphabet.
While this may seem like a wild goose chase, it can be lead you to even more great keywords to target to drive the right search visitors to your website.
Track Site Search
Another way to figure out what keywords your customers are interested is to track Site Search to your website. This is simply letting Google Analytics tap monitor the keywords that your customers search using the search box on your own website.
While you may not get the keyword that drove the visitor to your website, you'll get additional keywords that they are digging for – ones that you can easily optimize other pages on your website for.
Scan Your Contact Form Submissions
If you have a contact form on your website – especially one that allows visitors to enter their own subject line – scan those emails for keywords. Chances are, people have used them in the subject and body.
If nothing else, this will give you an even better insight into keywords you should be optimizing for, as they are the keywords that your customers are using.
Listen to Your Customers
Similarly to scanning your form submissions, listen to what your customers say when they call your business. A lot of potential customers will say something to the effect of "I found your business when I was searching for _____."
A great way to collect that little piece of information is to create custom note pads for your business that asks the person who answers the phone to fill out the basic information about the potential customer, including what words they searched for or what words they used to describe your business. You can also include it as a custom field in your CRM software to ensure that those important keywords are tracked.
Ask Your Customers
You know that little "How did you find us?" field in contact forms, surveys, etc.? Don’t just ask your customers if they used a search engine. Ask them to provide the keyword as well.
It never hurts to ask, and you just might get some useful answers out of it.
Bonus: Use SEO PowerSuite
If you don't want to have to bounce back and forth between multiple tools to try to guess the keywords you are missing, try unlocking your (not provided) keywords using SEO PowerSuite.
Learn more about how this new feature can help calculate your keyword traffic with 91% precision!
Google may be trying to steer marketers away from keyword usage by limiting the amount of data they can receive about search visitors and the keywords they use, but the fact is that keywords are still vital for search optimization. Don't let them die with (not provided) – find solution that works best for you and start using it today to stay on top of the most important keywords for your website.
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