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When the Problem is Not Provided

Graham Miller Posted by
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When the Problem is Not Provided

Throw a stick into a crowd of our clients and you're sure to hit one that uses Google Analytics. It's a fantastic tool to tell you who is coming to your web site, where they are coming from, what they do when they arrive and how long they stay.

 And coupled with goals or e-commerce tracking it can give you the most important figures on how your web site is performing.


One of the most popular parts of Google analytics has always been the search report, that shows the words and phrases that people search Google for prior to landing on your web site.  If you have an ongoing search engine optimisation campaign, or wanted to get more organic traffic to your site, this was the place to start.

Unfortunately, in 2011 Google began to make search behaviour more secure by encrypting those search queries, and that encryption is almost complete.  It means that Google Analytics no longer shows the keywords being used to find your site, instead they are reported as not provided.

So how do you measure the effectiveness of your search engine optimisation when you can't see how people are finding the site through search engines? There are still ways to find out:


Webmaster Tools

Your Google Webmaster Tools report still shows SEO performance, as does Bing Webmaster Tools, but it only stores your data for 90 days.  If you're serious about SEO I'd recommend you download the CSV every month.

Landing Pages

You can set up a custom landing pages report, and apply an organic search segment to it.  Looking at the landing pages will give you a fairly good indication of what they were searching for.

Paid Keywords

If you have a PPC campaign you still have access to the Paid Keywords report.


But none of these will replace the beloved keyword report.  It's gone for good.

It's time to look at the bigger picture.

If you're frustrated by the not provided in your Google Analytics keyword report, maybe you need to step back and think about the bigger picture.  What was SEO?  It was a way of getting more business.

Search engine optimisation is now about user engagement, good design and social signals.  If you want to get a better listing in google I'd recommend

  • reducing your bounce rate
  • increasing your pages viewed per visitor
  • adding fresh content to the site
  • getting facebook fans and twitter followers
  • getting good quality links to your web site

then looking at ways to improve your conversions.

We already do this, and we can help.  For more information about what we can do for you in the wake of not provided please get in touch.

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