A Cure for the (Not Provided) Blues

Published: January 26, 2015  by 


blues singer shadowEvery SEO seems to be up in arms about the rise of not provided keywords in Google’s reporting. I don’t think that your reporting has to suffer. And I’ll show you why.

It’s all about perspective

If you operate an SEO agency that reports traffic increases for a set of keywords as a measure of your clients’ success, I can see how you could be pretty upset that Google is making your job more difficult.

But if you’re willing to make a slight adjustment in the way that you measure internally and report to clients, you can still showcase the success of your SEO, even if you don’t know which specific keywords are driving traffic. Here’s how:

How to use landing page reports to work around (not provided)

While in many cases we can no longer get that precious organic keyword data, we still have landing page data. When you optimize a website for search, you use your keyword research to optimize specific pages with their relevant keywords, right? So logically those pages that you optimize are going to receive an increase in entrances from organic search.

Level 1: Organic Entrances to Optimized Landing Pages

I set up a custom report in Google Analytics that measures just that. Here’s what the top level of that report looks like, with a year-on-year comparison:


In this instance, I’ve sorted the landing page by most entrances. If you’ve been performing proper SEO for a while, the pages you’ve optimized should be near the top. And if you want to get really focused, you can always use filters to display only the pages that you’ve optimized.

Level 2: Breakdown of Organic Search Engine Traffic to an Optimized Landing Page

Now if you drill down further, you can see how your efforts have paid off in terms of driving organic traffic from individual search engines to your optimized pages. Here’s how that looks:


You can use this as a more detailed breakdown of how much your work has done for a client’s site. And if you drill down one level deeper, there may be a special surprise waiting for you.

Level 3: Keyword Data (and in the case of Google, a lack thereof)

If you click on Google, you’ll likely just get an ugly reminder that a lot of the organic keyword data you were used to has been replaced by those two ugly words – “not provided.” However, if you’re getting traffic from Yahoo and Bing, you’ll be happy to know that organic keyword data will be waiting for you.


So even though the search giant has taken away your Google keyword data, they’ve given you a consolation prize. You can still get some valuable nuggets from the keyword data coming from other search engines.

Bonus: If you’re monitoring conversions as part of your service, you can use the second tab of this custom analytics report to show off the page value. Not only can you tell your client how much traffic your optimized page has brought to his website, you can also show him how those pages have helped make conversions happen.

Yes, it isn’t the best situation. But you can work with this!

We all wish that there was a magic bullet to bring back those keywords that are now not provided, but this is a case where you’ll have to play the hand that you’re dealt. When you look at the big scheme of things, this isn’t too bad of a hand.

Get the (not provided) workaround custom analytics report

Here are the links to this custom report I’ve been talking about:

On one tab you’ll find the entrance data report and on the other you’ll find the page value report. Customize this as you please, and if you have any good ideas that can be used for it, share them in the comments!