September 18

How to fix the not provided problem in Google Analytics?

[photo credit https://unsplash.com/@mjessier]

Do you have the problem where Google Analytics is showing not provided for the search term results? Have you wondered if there is a way to fix this? In this post you will learn three ways of getting around this problem to get a better understanding of what keywords visitors are typing to arrive at your website.

First, login to Google Analytics then go to Acquisition->All Traffic->Channels and then click Organic Search and see what you get.

Looking at the example screenshot below, in this scenario 96% of the organic traffic has no keyword provided! This is disappointing as it leaves you guessing how people are finding your website.

Google Analytics Not Provided Results
Google Analytics Organic Keyword Results

Why does Google Analytics have not provided in the results?

This is a question that comes down to privacy. Google has decided to protect the privacy of the user for a reason we won’t go into in this post. You should just know that this is normal, but there are things you can do to help, which is why you are here in the first place!

How can I figure out where people are coming from?

So what do you do? You can do some guess work here and infer what visitors want by checking out where they are landing on by visiting

Behavior -> Site Content -> Landing Pages

Google Analytics navigating to landing pages section
Navigating to Landing Pages Data

Once you go to your Landing Pages section, you’ll see a list of top pages that users are landing on. This can be a clear indication of what they are searching for.

Google Analytics landing pages section
Google Analytics -> Landing Pages

Look at the result above and take a good guess at what the top landing pages are. Do you see a trend here? In this case it’s clear the primary landing pages are technical in nature, usually including vuejs, aside from the home page. So if this was your report, you can assume that keywords driven from these posts are driving traffic. If these posts are SEO optimized as well, using a plugin such as Yoast will help you target the type of keywords you want to rank for.

That’s all great if your analytics is this clear but what if you really want to know what people are searching for? For example, in the results above the home page is still a dominant landing page in the second position. How could you figure out what keywords are driving traffic to this page?

Try a premium service

One solution is to signup to a premium service such as Keyword Hero. Don’t ask us how it works, but by accessing your Google Analytics data it is able improve your results. For example, look at the example below.

Google Analytics landing pages with keyword hero
Google Analytics -> Landing Pages with Keyword Hero

You can see a majority of the results are (not provided) but at least we have some results here now. As we could have guessed, vuejs is a primary driver of organic traffic.

Look at Google Webmaster Tools

Another solution that is free to use is Google’s Webmaster Tools. You should be using this tool already to ensure your website’s sitemap is registered with Google. If you’re not familiar with this tool, in short you can think of it as your free diagnostics tool. If you have ever wanted performance monitoring of a car, this is the same thing for your website. It will tell you how your pages are being appearing in Google search, what issues could be going on with your website, and other technical metrics that you can review to fine tune your website.

Why you should monitor these results is that Google will penalize your search rankings if it’s not performing well. You don’t have to worry about every single error it sends you, but you should stay on top of it on a monthly basis.

Now why are you here again? Oh yes, we were interested in learning more about the keywords your visitors are using to find your website. Once you login go to Performance than scroll down a bit. You should see some data like below.

Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools -> Performance

This data is great, you can see the number of clicks per keyword, and the number of impressions! There are more a ton of other related metrics in there too. Keep in mind that this tool changes quite frequently, at the time of writing there is no way to sort the results by position in the search results page, but only a year ago there was. So what you see above may not be the same as what you’re seeing now.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it! This post has looked at three ways you can understand your organic search results better. First, by inferring your visitors searches by looking at the top landing pages. Second, by using a premium tool such as Keyword Hero and letting it do some “magic” for you. Third, setup Google Webmaster tools and let the source of truth tell you what is going on. The question I have is, why can Google Webmaster tools tell you the search results and not Google Analytics? I don’t have the answer to this one, but if you do please let me know.

Do you need help with understanding your analytics? Or improving your website’s SEO? We provide free website analysis and SEO reports. Get in contact with us today!


Tags

google analytics, keyword hero, landing pages, not provided, organic keywords, webmaster tools


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