If you have an online website, you need to set up analytics. Period. Without it, you have very little information about how your customers reach your site organically (SEO). Google Analytics has evolved quite rapidly over the last year in an effort to provide businesses large and small with information on how to better target their customers and optimize the content on their websites. Since Google Analytics is a free tool offered, there is no reason not to start using it and understand its features. While we have Google to thank for providing business owners with this seemingly invaluable tool, there’s a pretty big caveat. Google Analytics no longer shows you all the Google search terms your customers use! These “not provided” keywords have frustrated even the most advanced SEO professionals. I know from personal experience that this behavior is alienating the average business owner who is just beginning to understand SEO and optimize their web traffic. I have found a couple of ways around this hurdle that you may find useful.

Tips for understanding keywords not provided in Google Analytics

Let’s first understand what this means. When you look at Google Analytics for your site, you can drill down to see keyword search queries. This is the word or phrase that a customer searched for, appeared on your site, and generated a click. Non-provided keywords are actually keywords that Google doesn’t display because the user is signed in to a Google property at the time. That means if a customer logged into gmail, youtube or g+ at the time they searched for your keyword, Google doesn’t tell them what the keyword is! “What the hell is that about?!” you are probably saying. Hence the frustration.

Site content and landing pages

If you are producing search engine optimized content, you should have your specific keywords in the URL of that specific page. While Google may not show the specific keyword, if you search your site’s analytics by content/landing page URL within Google Analytics, you should be able to find out which pages and likely which keywords are driving sales or leads . If all of this sounds strange to you, then you probably need to start by consulting an SEO professional with real, real-life experience. If you’re on the same page… then here’s an example:

For example, if I’m Bob’s Bakery, I might have a page on my site titled BobsBakery (dot) com/cookies/holiday-cookie-gift-baskets. A user searches for “cookie gift baskets”, my site comes up, and the user clicks through and makes a purchase. However, the user was bored at work that day and had been watching stupid cat videos on YouTube all afternoon, so he logged into Google. So, in my Google Analytics, I don’t know what the user that generated the sale searched for; it will appear as keyword “not provided”. However, if I dig a little deeper into the Site Content, I can see that this specific URL is the page responsible for the sale. Since I included my keywords in both content and on-page SEO, I can reasonably conclude that the keyword “holiday cookie gift baskets” is a keyword that is working well for me.

Of course, using this example, I’m assuming you have ecommerce conversion tracking set up on your website and owned by Google Analytics. If not, then you should start by reading one more “SEO 101” article first!

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