Quick Tip: Fill in (Not Provided) Searches in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a great tool for website owners. It allows you to see details traffic reports on your site, which lets you measure the success of promotions, recognize trends, and aggregate information on you users, like which percentage is using mobile or an outdated browser. Accurate metrics should be a vital part of your website strategy, and Google Anayltics makes it easy and free.

But there’s a catch.

There’s always a catch, isn’t there? Don’t worry, this one isn’t that big of a deal, and I’m going to show you a quick and easy way to work around it.

Some search queries show as (not provided) in Google Analytics

(Not Provided) Keywords in Google Analytics

If you’ve used the tool at all, you’ve probably noticed that you don’t actually get to look at all the search keywords people are using to find your site. And if you’re anything like me, the lion’s share of search terms are hidden behind the dreaded (not provided) label.

So what is (not provided)? Excellent question. Essentially, when you use Google, it keeps track of what terms you use when you search, and where you click in the search results. However, if you are also signed into a Google service, like Gmail or YouTube, your search metrics are hidden. Google does this out of concern for its users’ privacy, which is pretty understandable.

Unfortunately, the result is that those searches get lumped into that big pile of (not provided) that plagues many of our Analytic reports. Since Google is so popular and offers such a range of solutions, a great many people are perpetually signed into when they do searches, which equates to significantly less useful metrics for you.

The Work Around: Webmaster Tools

Thankfully, there is a very simple workaround. It’s also produced by Google, and it’s also completely free. Webmaster Tools is a great collection of tools for people running websites. Exploring what you can do with Webmaster Tools is outside the scope of this article, but do check it out if you’re not already using it.

Once you register with Webmaster Tools (a process which becomes even easier if you’re also using Analytics), browse to Traffic > Search Queries. You’ll get a list of all the times your site showed up in search, where it ranked, how many people clicked through, and the click through rate. It’s not as pretty as Google Analytics, but the data is complete and very useful.

You can get a complete list of search keywords in Webmaster Tools

The obvious question is why should data be hidden in Analytics but not in Webmaster Tools. I would assume because you can’t do as much with the data in Webmaster Tools, but that’s only conjecture on my part (don’t be shy about schooling me if you happen to know why it works this way). The important thing is that it works.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>