(Not Provided) Analytics – The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to effective SEO, everyone knows that keyword tracking matters. But the rise of the [not provided] response in Google Analytics (due to shifts in Google’s privacy policy) has crippled those who use GA as their go-to for keyword research, ranking, and tracking.

Fortunately, there are workarounds which will still allow you to measure your keyword-based search performance. Here at Strongpages, we’ve organized some handy tips and alternative approaches which will help you assess the value of your SEO efforts in a [not provided] environment.

  1. Review patterns of organic traffic over time. This can easily be accomplished with the use of GA’s date comparison tool, which allows you to compare traffic results over a defined span of time, with data from another period (for example – quarterly traffic, or current vs prior year).
  2. Track trending keywords. Google Trends is an excellent tool for tracking the popularity and performance of a particular keyword over time. You can also use it to compare relative search volume and results for similar or related terms. Google Trends provides inflection point metrics for a keyword or term over time, which is helpful when choosing the best focus keywords for targeted marketing.
  3. Assess landing page data. It might seem that the lack of keyword information has left you swimming in a sea of unfathomable data. The good news is that you can still access search data with some granularity by using Google Analytics organic keywords report, which will allow you to view those pages which are driving organic traffic to your site. In the Landing Page view, you’ll be able to see the url of each page, as well as detailed information regarding page visits. If your content is properly optimized, you should be able to determine by URL which topics are driving the most traffic to your site – in short, you’ll be able to see what’s already working (and what’s not). This will allow you to tailor future content accordingly.
  4. Add landing page data to your keyword report. Now that you know how helpful the above information can be, adding this data a secondary dimension to your keyword report will help you easily pull the most value from both. (Econsultancy’s Dan Barker has provided an excellent hack, designed to do this automatically – you can find it, here.)
  5. Apply multi-channel analytics. Multi-channel attribution across digital channels is a challenge, but it will help you gain greater insight into the impact of organic search and social media. You can use Google Analytic’s multi-channel funnel functionality to review and compare decision-making patterns of visitors to your site, and determine which (if any) of your traffic-driving channels might be under-represented by last-click attribution. Understanding the true attribution of conversions will help you improve measurement of your organic search efforts.
  6. Utilize custom reports and filters. For the tech savvy among us, it’s easy enough to adjust your reporting parameters, and apply filters which can help you regain some of your [not provided] analytics. (For a fantastic overview, and some helpful downloadable report templates, see Avinash Kaushik’s post on [not provided] reporting.) Using customized reports and filters will help you add secondary dimension to your analysis, and add meaning to keyword data.
  7. Utilize Google Webmaster. By connecting Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, you’ll unlock the most accurate replacement data for [not provided] keywords. Once you’ve verified ownership of your website in Webmaster, you can integrate these tools, and access keyword data such as keyword impressions, clicks, and click-through rates for Google search through GA’s Search Engine Optimization reports. The information is not flawless, but it can be helpful to provide deeper insight into keyword use and traffic patterns.
  8. Use Google Search results. Need more keyword ideas, but don’t want to enlist with AdWords? Try entering your known keywords into Google’s search bar, and check out the “Related Searches” results at the bottom of the page. These terms are the most commonly used search phrases for a similar products and services – so their usefulness is guaranteed. Focusing on related searches and queries is likely to help boost your targeted traffic.
  9. Utilize AdWords reports. Google AdWords provides a Paid & Organic Keyword Report which integrates Webmaster and AdWord data and arranges it into one view. This report is a great resource for identifying and assessing keyword coverage, as well as providing a comprehensive overview of your site’s paid and organic search results for targeted keywords. AdWords also provides a Keyword Planner which can be helpful for suggesting future focus words.
  10. Use demographic info to segment searches. GA’s Demographics reports can significantly increase your visibility into organic search results. If you aren’t already utilizing the dc.js version of Google Analytics, you’ll need to change the site code and update your privacy policies to enable remarketing – but for those currently utilizing Google Tag Manager, you can simply update your tag settings to enable reports. You can then segment reports using demographic info such as gender and age range, to gain better understanding of your target audience, and adjust your organic search strategies based on your site’s key demographics.

Lastly, the best way to overcome the challenges of [not provided] is simply to move past strict reliance on keyword usage, and expand your SEO strategy to include the creation of high-quality, diverse site content. You know what your audience is seeking better than anyone else – so make the most of that knowledge, and drive site traffic by providing them with relevant information which adds value to their experience.

If you’ve followed the suggestion above, but still find it difficult to gauge your organic search results – don’t despair! The experts at Strongpages are here to help. Contact us today, to learn more about how we can improve your SEO strategy, and help you overcome the challenges of [not provided] analytics.