At first, Google Analytics provided almost all data related to keywords searches; a gold mine for SEOs and website editors! But very quickly, this data became less and less available. All these keywords "hidden" by Google constitute the famous "not provided".
Why has “not provided” become so important in Google Analytics data?
Today, for the majority of sites, “not provided” keywords exceeds 80%, in other words, 80% of keywords that users have typed are now "hidden" by Google. The official reason given by the search engine is related to the protection of personal data. However, these keywords are still available on Google Ads, which is a paid service! It is therefore likely that Google, which is the first to track its users for its products, has seen in the "not provided" an excellent way to encourage advertisers to use Google Ads.
Why do we need this information for SEO?
The keywords hidden behind the “not provided” label are important to understand the origin of our organic traffic and users' intentions. They allow us to customize our content to attract qualified traffic. In the end, by hiding these keywords, Google goes against what it has always advocated for: the quality of information that should meet the intention of the user.
What are the alternatives to find keywords typed by our site visitors?
Analyze landing pages for "not provided" traffic
It is possible to find the keywords of those landing pages by using other tools than Google Analytics. Among the best known: Ahrefs, SemRush, and also SmartKeyword. They do not indicate precisely the keywords by which your users arrived, but they tell you on which keywords a page is well positioned. This is another data set that is just as interesting.
Use the Google Search Console
Today, we can only access a limited number of keywords, those found on the Google Search Console, which are limited to 1,000 (which is not much for most sites). With so little data, we can have an idea of the top queries, but we should not rely too much on it for the long tail.
Using Google Ads (Keyword planner)
As we mentioned above, with its Keyword Planner tool, Google Ads gives you access to a large number of keywords. You can even find search volumes (more or less accurate depending on the size of your account). So much for data protection!
Analyze expressions and keywords entered in the search bar of your own website
Your internal search engine can be an important source of keywords. It will tell you exactly what people are looking for when they arrive on your site. However, you won't know which keywords they used to arrive at your site.
“Not provided” has become the bane of SEOs and web publishers. It has forced professionals to adapt, by exploiting other forms of data. Fortunately, the emergence of many SEO tools has facilitated the circumvention of the “not provided” and still allow today to understand Internet users’ behavior.
Article written by Louis Chevant
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