8 Things you can do with ‘not provided’ organic keywords


    SEO professionals that have been in the business since 2011 will remember the days when all ‘not provided’ organic keywords were visible in Google Analytics.

    Then gradually, year after year, they began to disappear.

    Most Google Analytics users will now see 99% of keywords described as (not provided).

    It was shocking to the community when this happened first.

    Luckily with far greater data processing powers compared with six years ago.

    And the use of a deep learning algorithm users can reclaim  your ‘not provided’ organic keywords.

    I explained previously how to find Google Analytics keywords in seven steps.

    Once you have gained access to the data and engineered around it, you can
    tap into a well of invaluable information such as tracking organic keyword conversions in Google Analytics.

    1. Understand conversion keywords

    The goal of most SEO initiatives is to acquire users that behave in ways that align with your company’s business goals.

    That could be an order or a page view.

    Setting traffic as a kpi is important.

    However, understanding which keywords convert the best is more important.

    Finding the ‘not provided’ organic keywords that result in the most conversions is probably the single most valuable piece of information for digital marketers.

    First, on Google Analytics go to  Acquisition | Overview  | Organic Search.

    You can sort the table by clicking on a title at the top of the column.

    In our example, we chose the number of sales (goal completions.)

    Transactional search phrases like ‘buy’ are more likely to have higher conversion rates when compared to search phrases like roses for women that are more information. Of the eight keywords that resulted in a sales in the above screenshot, three had the prefix ‘buy’.

    The second thing we can see is that the phrase ‘Bouquet’ is prevalent among our keywords.

    And comes with a good conversion rate and order value.

    People looking specifically for a flower bouquet, spend more than people searching with more general search terms like flower shop.

    Knowing that conversion rates of different keywords means we can then optimize our webpages to cater more to users that are looking for bouquets, instead of having them waste time browsing.

    This will result in more of qualified traffic and higher conversion rates, once ‘not provided’ organic keywords are utilized.

    If you are trying to track your conversion keywords and there is too little conversion data available, this type of analysis is not possible or doesn’t make that much sense for you.

    If this is the case, you need to use different metrics:

    Create goals in Google Analytics

    If your are the SEO manager of an e-commerce shop but you have too little sales to analyze, a good way to get more data is by setting up goals in Google Analytics.

    Instead of only looking at the final sale, you could define funnel conversion goals such as ‘added to basket’.

    Almost always this will result in more data and makes it easier for keyword optimization.

    Google Analytics behavior metrics

    If you haven’t enough sessions on your site to create a meaningful goals or sales, behavioral metrics such as bounce rate or time on site can be useful to monitor.

    These will often align with goals and sales and can provide insights into whether users are satisified.

    Even a little bit of data is enough to benefit from using behavioral metrics to recognize trends in individual keywords.

    2. Quick win ‘not provided’ organic keywords

    Keyword Hero creates the custom dimension Position, which conveys the Serp position for a keyword.

    This is the position for each session so that a keyword can have multiple positions.

    If the keyword is in position 1, the session was triggered, when your link was at the top of the Serps (congratulations).

    (Note, at time of writing, Google is trialing a much longer first page of result)

    The difference in traffic between the top three and bottom three Serp positions is 10x!

    To find the keywords that are close to being on page 1 of Google, you can use the Keyword Hero custom Position dimension.

    quick win keywords

    Look out for keywords that rank from positions 11 – 16.

    Using keyword optimization tools to enhance these keywords, will have a massive impact on sessions and sales.

    3. Track keyword performance across devices

    People tend use different search terms on mobile versus desktop.

    To find out how many sessions you get from certain keywords, click on a keyword in the keyword view and add the secondary dimension ‘Device Category’.

    You can now see all behavioral and transactional metrics split by device:

    The easiest way is to install our “mobile vs. desktop” dashboard.

    If you want to do it yourself and see your rankings split by device, click on a single keyword.

    Now add a segment by clicking on ‘Add Segment’ above the keyword table.

    keywords by device

    Then search for Mobile Traffic and select it.

    Now add another segment and look for Tablet and Desktop Traffic.

    You now have your rankings split by devices and you can see how many sessions you’re pulling in from each device category.

    This is only possible once ‘not provided’ organic keywords are visible again in GA.

    4. Stop ranking cannibalism

    Sometimes you’re ranking with several landing pages for a ‘not provided’ organic keyword.

    Likely, there will be significant differences in how those pages appeal to users coming with the same search intent.

    The idea is to funnel traffic from a specific keyword to those pages that have the best metrics.

    To find out, which Urls rank for a particular keyword, click on any keyword in the keyword view, preferably the one with the most organic traffic.

    Now, add ‘landing page’ as the secondary dimension.

    'not provided' organic keywords by landing page

    What you see now is a single keyword and the 10 (!) Urls that Google considers relevant for this query. 

    About 84% of the sessions, triggered by the keyword: Keyword Hero, land on our homepage.

    The other 16% are spread across the nine remaining Urls.

    Comparing the behavioral metrics such as time on site and bounce rates of the Urls will give you an idea whether user intent matches page content.

    It could be the case that you need to differentiate the other landing pages more, so that the homepage pulls in most of the traffic.

    5. Analyze long-tail keywords

    Long Tail Keywords

    Focusing on long-tail keywords is a great way to improve SEO ROI.

    These keywords find the searcher in the right stage of the buying cycle or search funnel.

    One of the benefits of revealing ‘not provided organic keywords is the ability to see long-tail keywords in Google Analytics again.

    70% of all website traffic comes from long-tail keywords.

    With Keyword Hero, you can target these keywords instead of competing for a difficult keyword against more established websites.

    With these niche keywords, it’s also easier to match the intent of the searcher.

    Thus it’s more clear what they are looking for when using a search term.

    For example, a searcher who uses the keyword ‘runners’ might be looking to buy running shoes, research famous athletes, or find general information about running shoes.

    But if a searcher uses the phrase ‘buy mens running shoes for rainy weather,’ it’s a safer bet to assume they are looking to make a purchase.

    6. Build better content

    You might be getting a few hundred views on the articles you publish.

    But are the hits due to keyword optimization?

    Here’s where Keyword Hero comes in. 

    When you can see which keywords do well for your site, you can tweak your content strategy for better SEO results.

    Instead of writing articles about famous athletes, you could hone in on the search intent of somebody looking for runners that have good grip or are waterproof, based on the keywords they are using to find your article.

    There is little point in writing articles just for the sake of it.

    You can tailor your content to the search intent of users once you have unlocked ‘not provided organic keywords.

    7. Adjust to Google’s algorithm updates 

    Google runs countless search algorithm tests every year.

    This will affect your keywords.

    Going blind without knowing these keywords doesn’t mean you won’t still get thousands of visitors per day.

    However, they might not be coming from ‘not provided’ organic keywords.

    Keyword Hero enables you to adjust according to Google’s Algorithm Updates.

    You don’t have to worry anymore about Google Panda, Hummingbird nor Penguin. Or any other algorithm changes. 

    8. Detect and monitor brand keywords

    Brand keywords are keywords with your brand name in them.

    These are different from non-brand keywords which are keywords that do not relate to your brand.

    Let’s look at a couple of examples:

    Nike Flyknit Shoes

    This is a brand keyword for Nike.

    Notice that brand keywords can contain more than one keyword.

    Let’s say a store called FastShoes.com sells these.

    ‘FastShoes’ is a brand keyword. ‘Nike Flyknit Shoes’ is not because this keyword relates to another brand.

    ‘FastShoes Flyknit’ would count as a brand keyword. Notice that ‘Flyknit’ on its own is only ever a brand keyword for Nike.

    Identifying how brand keywords are performing is important for the following reasons:

    • Maintaining brand authority
    • Maximizing conversions: brand keywords are typically high traffic, high converting. Make sure you occupy the number one spot in the Serps
    • Optimizing brand keyword performance: as your keyword set grows, it becomes harder to keep track of how they are performing
    • Identifying gaps: make sure all your brand keywords are satisfying user intent by analyzing user behavior at a keyword level.

    Daniel Schmeh
    For eight years Daniel Schmeh has been involved in online marketing, in the first years mainly with SEO, later more and more with web analytics and marketing automation.
    Daniel Schmeh
    For eight years Daniel Schmeh has been involved in online marketing, in the first years mainly with SEO, later more and more with web analytics and marketing automation.