Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Finding (Not Provided) Keywords in Google Analytics

I rarely write tool specific posts on this blog but since I have recently been asked by a few people about this issue and it affects every web analytics tool, I decided to post it here.

A few months ago, Google, the search engine, started encrypting searches for user who are logged into their Google account while conducting the search. As a result of this encryption, the keyword that the visitors search to arrive to your site is not passed in the referring URL. Web Analytics tools rely on the keywords passed in the referring URL to build the search engine traffic report and in the absence of the keywords there is nothing to report, though they still see that the visits came from Google search. So Google Analytics now marks those visits that do not have a keyword but come from Google with “(not provided)” keyword instead of the actual keyword.

Finding those keywords

Google still tracks all the keywords search by logged in users but just does not pass it in the referrer to the site that the user clicks through to. These keywords are available in the Google Webmaster Tools. To see the report you will have to register your sites in Google Webmaster Tool. Google Webmaster tools will allows you to see all the keywords that were searched, the number of clicks your site got, the average position of your site for those keywords and the landing pages.

If you are not using Google Analytics on your site then you will have to login to Webmaster Tools anytime you want to see those reports.

If you are using Google Analytics then you can connect Google Analytics reports and Google Webmaster tools to get Webmaster reporting within the Google Analytics interface.
However there are three issues with this report when used with Google Analytics (or any another web analytics tool)
  1. You don’t get other metric (e.g. goal conversion) about the visits that arrived from the keywords.
  2. This list of keywords includes not only the keywords marked with “(not provided)” but also the other keywords that you see in Organic traffic report. So you will have to do extra analysis to see which keywords are hidden under “(not provided)”.
  3. If you look at Google Webmaster tool report then you will notice that there are a lot more impressions and clicks than those displayed in the Webmaster report and the Google Analytics report (see below). I was not able to find a reason why Google is only displaying the partial number of keywords, if you know the reason then please let me know.
To leave a comment please visit my new blog at http://anilbatra.com/analytics/2012/03/finding-not-provided-keywords-in-google-analytics/

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