How to Survive in a 'Not Provided' World

If you are using Google Analytics (and who isn’t, right?), you have been noticing for quite some time now, an increase in the dreaded ‘not provided’ term. Google has been on a mission to encrypt all search data and if the trend continues we very well may see keyword data 100% ‘not provided’.

Google Analytics Not Provided

This decision has left a lot of website owners furious – and with good reason. Keyword data can provide you with valuable information, especially informing you of the organic keywords that are driving traffic to your website.

We know, it stinks! Well, we are here to tell you it isn’t as bad as you think. In fact, we want to pass along a few tips to you that could help you survive in this ‘not provided’ world.

Using Goal Tracking in Analytics

Whether Google provides organic keyword data again in the future, or not, website owners should be focused on other metrics. Keyword data is/was valuable for providing you the terms with which users reached your site, but what were these users’ actions once they found your site?

As a website owner, you should know what action you want users visiting your site to take. Is it a sale, a download, a form completion, or to view a certain page on your site? Most all actions a user performs on your website can be tracked within Google Analytics. At the end of the day, tracking these actions are a much better tool for measuring your site’s success than traffic from keyword terms.

Inside the Administration panel of your Analytics account, you will find Goals. Once inside Goals, you will create a New Goal – and with a little coding you can track most anything.

Google Analytics Goals

Once you start collecting data from your goals, you will become much better equipped with information on how to improve your website than keyword data ever provided you.

Use Filters

Logging into Analytics and seeing that 79% of your keyword data is being shown as ‘not provided’ is never a good feeling. We have a little tip for you that can help make that data a little more useful.

Analytics also has a Filter feature in their Administration panel. Once in there, add this to a New Filter. Over time, this will show you the landing pages for each of the ‘not provided’ referrals. This will not provide you with the exact keyword that brought the traffic to your site, but if your content is well optimized, as well as your URLs, you will have a very good idea of what terms the users were using to find your site.

Google Analytics Filters

New Filters in Google Analytics

Google Webmaster Tools

Most website owners are aware of Google Analytics, but not as many are using Google Webmaster Tools. Now is a great time to jump on board!

You will find some valuable keyword data related to your website in Webmaster Tools. Just go to Search Traffic > Search Queries.

This data only goes back a limited time, but you can also use some of their filter options to see things like web vs. mobile. Also, this data is very valuable because it will show you impressions, clicks, CTR and Average Position.

Join the PPC side

I know, I know — the last thing you want to do is hand Google over some of your own money after they’ve stripped away your keyword data. I get that! The fact is, paid advertising space on search result pages is increasing. If Google is paying more attention to it, chances are you should too!

Once you start using Adwords, Google will show you the keyword data coming from paid search. This will give you a solid idea on which high volume keywords are really converting for you. That will then give you the knowledge to use towards where you want to focus your website, specifically in the organic SEO world.

We have been aware for a while now that Google has been moving away from keyword data. We can either kick and scream, or jump on board. Its time to stop focusing on old school keyword data, and start focusing on providing our customers what they want when they visited our site in the first place. Use these tips above, but remember — provide your customers with the best user experience.

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