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What is Google Analytics ‘not provided’?

Have you ever punched a query into Google Analytics only to be met with “(not provided)” instead of the queries leading to your website?

While it can be frustrating, it doesn’t need to be a major concern. In fact, it just means that Google is looking at organic keyword data in order to protect the privacy of searchers.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your Google Analytics data has been lost or misconfigured. In this guide, we’ll be covering two possible solutions to the “(not provided)” problem as well as some tips for how to use newly acquired keyword data.

SIDENOTE

Google Analytics 4, which is the successor to Universal Analytics, doesn’t by default show any organic keywords or the “(not provided)” token in the acquisition report at the time of writing. This problem can be solved using the same solutions as this article.

Solution 1: Google Search Console (GSC)

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free Google tool that monitors and fixes problems with your website’s search engine results. GSC can be used to identify and fix technical issues, submit sitemaps and view backlinks.

Getting started with GSC is easy: you just need to set it up in order to see your organic keyword data. Once you’re up and running, you’ll be able to view your organic keywords within the Performance report, and the data will be available for viewing in the Queries tab at the bottom of the panel.

What does GSC data mean?

  • Top query refers to Google Search queries (i.e. keywords) that generated impressions for your website. The keyword that generated that impression (web search, image search or Google News) will be reported whenever your website’s URL appears in Google’s search results.
  • Clicks show clicks that lead to your website’s URL via organic search results. This excludes paid Google Ads results. A click is classified by any click that takes the user beyond the search results. 
  • Impressions are how many times a URL from your site appeared in search results. This does not mean that the searcher has visited your website; it simply means that it has been displayed.

Google may take some time to show your data. The good news is that once your data has been uploaded, you will be able to see up 16 months of retroactive information.

It’s important to note that GSC provides insight into search queries that brought people to your site, but it does not show all of the data. Google does not show rare queries, also know as “anonymous queries”, which are only performed by a small number of users. GSC will show you only up to 1000 keywords in its interface.

What other information can I view in the GSC Performance report?

The Performance report shows clicks and impressions with the following information:

  • URLs of pages , which were entered from the SERPs.
  • Countries from which the search originated.
  • The type of device from which the search was made.
  • Search Appearance tab: Grouped data to certain types or features of search results. This data is reserved to search results that are not typical blue links. It includes review snippets and videos, how-to pages, and more.
  • Dates (shown in Pacific Time Zone).

How do I filter a GSC Performance report?

GSC’s Performance reporting functionality gives you the ability to set filters that only display data that matches certain criteria. Some examples of filters include:

  • Date
  • Search type
  • Specific query
  • Country

The overview panel below contains a second set of filters. Here you can access a graph that dynamically displays and plots the data in the filters against time. These filters can also be used to modify the Keyword report data. 

There are some additional filters that can be applied, including:

  • CTR – A click through rate (CTR) is a percentage of organic impressions that lead to a click.
  • Average Position – This is your site’s average position in search results. It is determined based on its highest position in search results.

If you click the CTR filter, you can view CTR data next to “Clicks”, and “Impressions”.

How to integrate Google Universal Analytics and GSC

Google Universal Analytics users and Google Analytics 4 users may integrate GSC data into Analytics to view all data in one tool. To get started, make sure that you have both services set up for the same property, then access Google Analytics and follow the steps below:

  1. Select your property (i.e. the website for which you wish to see data).
  2. Go to the admin panel.
  3. Select All products from the Product Linking section.
  4. Search for “Search Console” then click link Search Console.
  5. To connect your GSC data to Universal Analytics data, follow the steps in this wizard.

You must have both GSC and Google Analytics 4 set up for the same property. Next, access your Google Analytics.

  1. Select your property (i.e. the website for which you wish to see data).
  2. Go to the admin panel.
  3. Select Search Console Linking in the Product Linking section.
  4. Click Link in the Search Console link panel.
  5. To connect your GSC data to Google Analytics 4 data, follow the steps in this wizard.

Viewing your Google Analytics organic keyword data with GSC is just one solution when working with organic keyword data.

Solution 2: Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT)

GSC comes with limitations, the most significant being the limit of 1,000 keywords. To get around this limit, you can use an SEO tool such as Ahrefs (AWT).

This free tool can help you improve your website’s search engine optimisation performance and increase traffic from search. AWT offers four major advantages over GSC in terms of organic keywords. It will show you:

  1. All keywords are known. There is no limit to 1000 keywords.
  2. SEO metrics for pages or keywords.
  3. An unpersonalised snapshot of the SERP with competitive data.
  4. Keyword-specific SERP features.

From the moment the web crawler discovers and crawls your website, your data will be viewable. Ahrefs also allows you view data older than 16 months, which is the limit with GSC.

How does Ahrefs work?

After you have set it up, click on the widget “Organic keywords” in the project overview, then click on the link to access the Organic Keywords report.

You will see the following data by default (from left to right).

  • Keywords that searchers used in order to find your site – your solution for the “(not provided)” problem.
  • SF stands for Search Results Page Features (SEARP Features) that are displayed in search results for a keyword.
  • Volume shows the average monthly searches for a keyword.
  • Keyword Difficulty This calculates how difficult it is to rank among the top 10 organic search results, based on a 100-point scale.
  • CPC is the average price advertisers pay for each click in paid search results related to a keyword.
  • Traffic This calculates the amount of organic search traffic your target receives from a particular keyword.
  • Traffic Change (next To Traffic) refers the traffic change between your chosen dates.
  • Position is your top-ranking position for a keyword.
  • Position Change (next to Position) refers the position change between selected dates.
  • URL is the URL that ranks in search results for a keyword.

If you’re looking for data on keywords that are competitive to your URL data, you can click on the “line chart” icon to view the history of URLs ranking for keywords. Alternatively, you can view a simplified SERP overview of keywords.

With so much to offer, Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is an excellent solution for the GSC “(not provided)” issue. It’s actually far easier to set up if you already have GSC in place, and an overview of GSC can also be accessed in AWT – handy, right?

How to use keyword data

It’s not a marketing gimmick: keywords play an important role in driving traffic to your site, and it’s crucial to know exactly which ones are working best for you. This knowledge can be used to improve your SEO and increase your organic traffic. There are a couple of ways to do this using GSC and AWT.

1. Optimise pages using underperforming keywords

Keywords that rank lower than positions 1 and 2 are classified as underperforming. Most people only click on the first two results in a search, and you’ll lose a lot of organic traffic if your site isn’t in the top two. Although ranking #6 for competitive keywords is a great achievement – and still on the first page – you’ll only receive half of the organic traffic that higher-ranking pages receive.

To identify underperforming keywords, you can access the Organic keyword report in Ahrefs. To do this, click on the “Organic keywords” widget in the project overview, select the country for which data should be displayed, and set the Position filter to “3”. You’ll now see a complete list of underperforming keywords that rank at least #3.

You can now browse the results and create a list of pages to optimise. To see which pages rank higher than you in the SERPs, you can use the SERP Tool to determine their likelihood of ranking higher than you. For example, any site that uses the keyword “google keywords planner” has a slim chance of outperforming Google.

Once you’ve identified underperforming keywords, some ways to optimise your pages include:

  • Improving on-page SEO
  • Adding more relevant links
  • Building backlinks

2. Optimise pages that have low CTR and high keyword rankings

The importance of CTRs shouldn’t be diminished, especially when it comes to organic results. A page that ranks high in the SERP should have a high CTR. Why? It’s simple: because people are more likely to click on search results that have high rankings. The higher your CTR, the more traffic you’ll get to your site.

However, in some cases high ranking pages may have a lower-than-average CTR. There’s no need to worry – GSC allows you to quickly locate these pages and analyse their performance to determine how you can increase CTR.

To do this, go to the Performance report within GSC and set your filters to “Average CTR” or “Average Position”. Filter your keywords with an average ranking below 3.1 to view all pages that you rank for within the top three. Sort the report alphabetically by CTR, then identify keywords that have high impressions but a low CTR. These are the keywords to aim for when optimising your page.

There are several reasons why a keyword may be underperforming on a page. Other elements such as ads, video carousels and chat functions can garner more attention from searchers, burying your on-page content.

Once you’ve identified pages with low CTR – and the reason behind them – then you can get stuck into optimising your site for the best results.

3. Search for easy keywords to rank

A single page can rank for hundreds of keywords, whether intentional or not. Even if the keyword is not used in a specific way, Google can still associate a website with a keyword. How do you use this to your advantage? By targeting unintentional keywords. Incidentally, the lower your keyword difficulty (KD), the easier it will be to rank higher and get more traffic to your site.

Ahrefs offer a handy KD metric that allows you to search for keywords with low difficulty. To do this, access the Organic keyword report and enter a low number into the KD filter – around “20” should do the trick. Sort your results by volume, and voila – you’ll find your most promising opportunities to rank organically.

Looking for a partner in Google Analytics?

Wrapping your head around all that Google has to offer in the digital marketing sphere can be challenging. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. Finding a partner that can drive your business’ success is crucial. Get in touch with the friendly team at Impressive to find out what we can do for you.

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