Keyword Data Is Now (Not Provided) In Google Analytics

/Keyword Data Is Now (Not Provided) In Google Analytics

If you want to know the exact keywords your prospects are typing into Google to find your website, then you used to turn to Google Analytics (GA).  There’s a nifty report in GA called the “Organic Search Traffic Report” that used to list all the keyword phrases your prospects searched before clicking on your website in

But now that keyword data is gone! Well, actually it’s been disappearing for quite some time now.  Back in May 2010, Google first launched “encrypted search,” which is a fancy way of saying that search phrase data will no longer be available (i.e. it’ll be encrypted over a secure connection).  From that day forward, you may have noticed the keyword “(not provided)” slowly became your most popular search phrase, while the real search data were phased out.


Why Did Google Remove Keyword Data?

The short answer is online security.

Of course there’s no shortage of conspiracy theories out there, but I’m going to trust Google on this one.  By hiding search data in GA, Google prevents businesses (and hackers of businesses) from matching search data to individuals.  Therefore, there’s no way for anyone to pry into your online search behavior.  So you can safely Google whatever your heart desires without the risk of it “going public.” Your secret Justin Bieber obsession is safe with Google. :)


How Can You Measure Your SEO Campaigns?

Great question! Just because Google removed keyword data from GA doesn’t mean you can’t measure the effectiveness of your search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns.

In fact, if you’re familiar with Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), then this news shouldn’t be a big deal.  GWT still provides keyword data and even shows how your rankings, clicks, click through rate, and impressions have changed over the past 30 days.  If you don’t have a GWT account, then click here to sign up for free.

Unfortunately, the GWT keyword reports do not show you the webpages that are ranking for each search phrase.  This limitation is admittedly quite annoying, but it can be overcome if you set up your website correctly for SEO. With proper on-page SEO, each of your webpages should be optimized for target keywords, which means you should be able to match your webpages to the keywords fairly easily.

In addition to using GWT, I still recommend GA.  GA will still report overall traffic trends from so you can see if your SEO traffic is going up, down, or staying constant over a period of time.   This data can also reveal algorithmic penalties like Panda or Penguin, which may have affected your website.

So even though Google removed a critical component in their analytics tool, all is not lost.  And this update should not be used as an excuse to stop tracking your SEO!

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By | September 29th, 2013|Categories: Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Tracking and Analytics|Tags: , , , |

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  1. Tom LeBlanc September 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Very informative issue!… concerning the Google keyword changes.

    The upcoming seminar about “Old School SEO” also sounds great but I will be out of town, that day, on a seminar.

    Are you planning to make an audio replay available for people like us?



    • Phil Frost October 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tom! If you register for the webinar then we’ll follow up with the recording.

  2. Josiah B. September 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    Honestly you are pretty naive. If you think Google becoming more and more secretive is a good thing you are mistaken and you truly do not know what is really going on and what is coming. This is an attack on the SEO community worldwide and is a good sign that that specific data being hidden is going to be used for a selective few to game the market. No company in the world should be deciding how the flow of money should happen over the internet. Period. Let me guess, you think Obama care is the best thing since french bread huh?

    Josiah B.

    • Phil Frost October 1, 2013 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Josiah – There’s no reason why this update should affect the flow of money over the internet. Smart marketers and business owners simply need to adjust their tactics for monitoring and improving their SEO.

      – Phil

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