How to get the most from Keyword (not provided)

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In September, it became apparent that keyword data from Google traffic was soon to be a thing of the past, with ‘(not provided)’ accounting for all visits originating from a (secure) Google search.
The difficulty with this is that a smaller proportion of your visits will have visible keyword data. This is only a problem if your analytics package doesn’t tell you anything else about that visit. Fortunately, with Google Analytics, we can find a LOAD of juicy data, there are also a few other approaches to help you uncover information about your website traffic that I will show you here, so that by the end of this article you’ll be saying “(not provided)? Not bothered!”
So, first things first, there are some top level indicators we can look at to give us a better handle on the type of visits your site is getting. Look at the rest of your organic traffic (that’s right, traffic from other search engines will still show you keyword data), obviously rankings and search patterns vary from one search engine to another, but if you’re getting a chunk of traffic for certain keywords from Bing or Ask etc. we can tentatively surmise that Google traffic may share some characteristics with these visits. From this traffic, you can even extrapolate roughly what proportion of your (not provided) visits are coming from branded vs non-branded traffic.
Where a visitor accesses your site is also, in large part, down to the search-term they have used. If a particular service or product page is receiving a large number of organic visits, it is fair to assume that the keywords relate in some way to that particular page or service. To most accurately see this for organic traffic, you need a simple Advanced Segment to segment off your organic traffic (see this post for a tutorial), otherwise your Landing Page data will include referral, ‘direct’ and PPC visits.
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Talking of PPC, if you’re running AdWords, those gracious souls at Google are willing to divulge a whole treasure trove of your visitors’ information. You can find out about your brand name keyword data if you’re running a branded AdWords campaign (as all good PPC marketers should be). You can see click-through-rates and impressions for your brand keywords and it’s a good bet that a significant number of searches for your brand name, that haven’t resulted in a click on a paid ad, are likely to have clicked on your organic listing. The same principle goes for any organic searches that cause your site to show up in organic and paid results. You can also use the Keyword planner; entering a range of search-terms you know you rank well for, you can see Google’s estimated monthly search volumes for those and get a rough idea of visitor numbers to your site.
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Google Webmaster Tools is also a good source of keyword and ranking data. Within the ‘search queries’ section, you can see historical keyword and rankings data as well as impressions and click-through-rates. HOWEVER, this data should be taken with a pinch of salt; treated as a guide, it can give you some very useful insights and flag up areas that could yield some valuable results if worked on.
So there you have it, what the (not provided) issue shows us is that even without Organic keyword data, we can still learn an awful lot about how a site is searched for and found, how visitors interact with and experience your site and where this can be improved. Ultimately, what it should be telling us is that focusing on keywords too heavily is a bit limiting, instead, think about the value of your site, its products and services and how you can make user experience as easy, intuitive and enjoyable as possible.
If you want help with finding and making the most of your insights, get in touch to discuss the best way we can do this for your business.

Written by Alex Wright

Head of Search