Navigating through Google's "(not provided)" Keyword


Since 2011, Google has been diminishing organic keyword data.  For many of us in SEO, this is a big deal because it leaves us in the dark - left to wonder what term users searched for when they visited the site. Today it became an even bigger deal when found that more than 75% of all organic keywords were “not provided” - the highest it has ever been.


So, amidst all the chaos what can we do to keep ourselves informed?


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Mine your data

As organic keyword data becomes more and more scarce, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that we will need to be self sufficient.  One reliable way is to look at your content pages.  Which pages have the most visits?  Which ones had the longest visit duration?  Was there a particular blog post that did better than the rest?  When you find those gems, take note.  Figure out what that page was about and keep track of the keywords used throughout that specific page.  Doing that for multiple pages will unearth trends within your domain.


Target Page Titles

Using fluffy page titles has never been good for the internet.  When comparing titles such as “The Wonderful Traits of Orange Juice” vs “10 Orange Juice Facts for Better Health” - it’s pretty much guaranteed that the 2nd option will win.  If you are late to the party, it’s time to throw out the fluff and use page titles to help your keyword research.  Be honest in your titles.  What is it about?  What exactly will my target audience be searching for?  Once your content has been published use page views, average time on page, bounce rates, and user comments as clues to the relevancy of your chosen keywords.


Don’t be afraid to experiment with your titles.  If you’re barely getting any pageviews after a couple of weeks, try switching it up.


Track the Competition

Google is not singling you out.  As organic keyword data decreases everyone will be thrown in the dark, including your competitors.  Keep track of their content, user interaction, and pages similar to your own.  You never know when they will find a gem of their own, and when they do, you need to be ready to follow.


Use social media to find buzz words

Again, use your audience’s conversations as clues to your keywords.  Post your content to your social circles and look for those repeated phrases and words.


Use Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Analytics

These tools might not have the most accurate data, but it’s free and reliable.  Any insight is better than none.


Ask users through Google surveys

Last but not least, just ask your users how they found you.  Google surveys are great because the questions pop-up in the corner of the page, so it’s noticeable but non-intrusive.  We have used this service on some of our sites and had some great insight.


How will you track organic keyword data if Google takes it away?

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SEO Analyst

Jon has been a content junkie since the dial-up days of 1995.  Since then he has become an advocate of content strategy, UX, SEO, and all the elements that create a great web experience....


Have a nice weekend