SEO | April 16, 2014

How to Access Those Lost ‘Not Provided’ Keywords

Last week we took a look at the pernicious, ever-growing threat of ‘not provided’ data in Google Analytics. Although the rise of ‘not provided’ is, quite honestly, a bit of an annoyance for search marketers, we’re a resolute, flexible bunch that are used to dealing with industry changes.

What’s more, there are ways around it. Here’s how you can reclaim those keywords and valuable search terms that Google so cruelly kept from you:

Enable site search

Are you making full use of a site search function? Enabling site search allows users to easily find content that they’re looking for, while also offering you an insight into what they’re looking for – and identifying new content ideas if they end up empty handed after searching.

Use Webmaster Tools

Happily, you can still use Google Analytics’ smaller, less clever brother Webmaster Tools to find out about the keywords that people are using to find your site.

To access this, simply log in to Webmaster Tools and then click traffic and search queries, where you’ll find a basic selection of popular keywords your visitors are typing in.

It’s pretty basic but it does show your most popular search terms, as well as their average position, click-through rate and the change in metrics you’ve enjoyed over a period of time – so you can tweak content and meta information to potentially improve click throughs. 

Make the most of auto-suggest

Looking to understand what people are searching for? In this instance, Google Autosuggest, otherwise known as autocomplete is here to help you out. Autosuggest is a tool that tries to predict search terms in Google before you’ve written them in full. Quite a lot of the time, it gets it right.

As a result, this feature makes it easy for marketers to anticipate the terms that many people will search with.

What’s more, it also helps marketers with content ideas during those dark days when inspiration doesn’t flow quite as freely as it should.

Try placing the ‘Five Ws’ before or after key terms to generate ideas. 

• What

• Why

• When

• Where

• Who

• ….and How

All of a sudden, you’ll be privy to many of the concerns, issues and queries that your target market is searching for during the buying process. All you need now is the engaging content to help them along.

Make the most of related searches

Similarly, related searches (the section at the bottom of each search page) offers a range of other popular terms that similar users are searching for.

It’s not quite as flexible, or as personalised, as autosuggest but is nonetheless still an effective way to generate ideas and get an understanding of how people are behaving online.

Use Bing

With less than 15% of all searches, Bing isn’t a particularly popular search engine. Happily, that means that it doesn’t play hard to get.

Using Bing Analytics, you can check out the keywords that users searched to find your site, without a ‘not provided’ in sight.

Of course, if yours is a small to mid-sized site, you’ll struggle to get many significant results from Bing Analytics,  while it also lacks Google’s pleasing aesthetic, but it can be a valuable resource.

…remember, keywords aren’t all that

As we discussed in the previous piece about ‘not provided’, talking about keywords does feel increasingly old fashioned. Keywords are still important, there’s no doubt, but Google’s ever-increasing focus on semantics, authoritative voices and social sharing means that proper content is everything.

20% of searches have never been searched before. So stop thinking about keywords. Start thinking about your target market.

What will they be searching for? What are their problems? What are the things that they struggle with? How can you help them? How can you create content that speaks to them personally?

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