9 Ways to Steal Your “Not Provided” Keyword Data Back!


Over the past year we’ve watched the ranks of the dreaded term “not provided” rise and rise. In September, Google announced that it had begun its mission to encrypt ALL search data, making 100% “not provided” keyword data a reality.

not provided google

Chart by Not Provided Count shows increase in “not provided.”

What Does Not Provided Mean in Google Analytics?

If you log into Google Analytics today, you’ll likely see the term “not provided” eating up the majority of your keyword data.

not provided analytics

Google is choosing not to show you the keywords that have been driving organic traffic to your site. But why Google, why? The official answer is that it’s done in the name of online privacy, to protect the vulnerable users. Some theorize that Google is trying to hinder third-party software that makes use of Google keyword data, and others believe it’s a move by Google to get more marketers to sign up for AdWords (since keyword data obtained through AdWords is not hidden).

Whatever the reasoning is, the “not provided” fiasco has a lot of SEO’s enraged, and for good reason. Keyword data about what organic keywords are driving traffic to your site has been essential for online marketers, so they know what’s working and where to go next.

Yes it stinks. A ton. Instead of crying on our keyboards though, we will remain ever optimistic, providing 9 ways to get your “not provided” keyword data back. Kind of. Alright, well, we’ve got workarounds – tools and techniques that will help you with keyword research and vital marketing data. You know what though, you might not even need that data as much as you thought. We’ll explain. Read on!

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1. Google Webmaster Tools: A Handful of Keywords

Google Analytics won’t cough up keyword info, but Google Webmaster tools still provides some, albeit not a ton. Still, in the middle of a desert, even a teacup of water can save your life.

not provided keyword data

2. Enable Site Search: See What Users Search For on Your Site

Setting up site search lets you see the queries visitors have used in the search box on your site (assuming you have one).

google site search

To set up site search, first go to Google Analytics and select the Account and Web Property you want to work with. Use View to select the view you’d like to use. From there:

  • Open View Settings
  • Click “Site Search Settings”
  • Choose “Do Track Site Search.”

enabling google site search

For Query Parameter you need to type in the word that designates an internal query parameter. If this all sounds like a foreign language don’t worry – it’s easy to figure out.

To find out what your query parameter is, visit your site and conduct a search with your site search box. Once you’ve conducted a search, you’ll see the URL change to something along the lines of:


Whatever comes after the “?” is your query parameter. In this example, the query parameter is “q.” Add your query parameter to the Site Search Settings.

Next you’ll see the option to “Strip query parameters out of URL.” Choosing this option will prevent your search from showing up in your Content reports. You’ll also see the option to add category parameters, which you can use if your site search engine allows for it.

Now you can head over to Behavior>Site Search>Search Terms, and lo and behold, you can see what folks are searching for on your site. This is pretty prime info – you’re learning what users are hoping to find on your site, which can launch a lot of ideas for SEO content you might want to add in the future.

For example, imagine you run a mattress company or bedding supply store, and you write a blog post called “Top 5 iPhone Sleep Alarm Apps.” You may peek into your site search report and find that users have searched “android alarm apps.” Maybe they saw your post about iPhone apps and are looking for the same info for Android apps. Suddenly you have a great new topic to write about that you know will resonate with audiences. Very cool!

3. Bing Keyword Data

Google may have turned its back on you, but Bing is that awkward kid on the playground who is desperate for friends, so no WAY it’s going to turn you away.

Bing doesn’t get nearly as much search traffic as Google, but at least it’s sharing. The only issue here is that because Bing gets so much less search traffic than Google, you’ll only find useful data if you get a lot of traffic, making it an unrealistic option for many smaller businesses.

4. Google Keyword Planner: The New Keyword Tool

Google axed the keyword tool that once made it easy to conduct hearty keyword research, and its disappearance has left many SEOers with long faces.

Not all is lost though – you can still use the Google Keyword Planner for keyword recommendations and brainstorming. Using it is more of a nuisance than the old keyword tool, since in order to use the planner you need to have an AdWords account.

Creating an AdWords account isn’t a huge deal though – no credit cards are required. Just choose your Google login, set your time zone, and you’re basically all set.

not provided adwords

Once you’ve logged in to AdWords, to find the Keyword Planner, go to Tools and Analysis > Keyword Planner. From there, you’ll have the option to:

  • Search for new keyword and ad group ideas
  • Get search volume for a list of keywords
  • Get Traffic Estimates for a list of keywords
  • Multiply keyword lists to get new keyword ideas

Today we’ll stick with searching for new keywords. Click that option and you’ll be brought to another page where you are prompted to provide some info. The only info you really need to give is your product or service. Feel free to ignore anything else you don’t understand or don’t want to provide.

not provided keywords

Click “Get Ideas” at the bottom of the box and you’ll soon be swimming in keywords.

google keyword planner tool

Toggle between “keywords” and “ad groups” for further segmenting. Don’t forget to take advantage of the traffic estimator and search volume tools as well – even though Google has robbed us of keyword data, they still offer a handy set of marketing tools for SEOs.

5. Google Related Searches

Need more keyword ideas? Never fear – Google’s recommended searches that appear at the bottom of SERPs are the easiest way to discover related keywords.

google analytics keyword not provided

The cool thing about these suggestions is that you are guaranteed that the related searches are popular – that’s why Google is displaying them in the first place! Focusing on those related searches and semantically similar queries will definitely boost your chances of crafting an efficient, searchable, traffic-driving page. 

6. Google Trends: Brand Monitoring & Topical Ideas

Google Trends is a great tool you can use for brand monitoring. Just type in your brand and see how searches for your business have changed over the months or years.

google trends

Google Trends can also be used to research possible timely topics. The “Hot Searches” category shows the popular search topics of recent days.

google hot searches

Another powerful section of Google Trends is the “Top Charts,” which shows the most popular search topics by category. See top search topics for everything from musical artists and politicians to software technologies and medications.

google top charts

Use Google Trends to monitor your branded keywords and brainstorm topical blog posts subjects.

7. Google Analytics

But wait, I thought we were hating on Google Analytics! What gives? While Google Analytics is no longer a good resource for discovering what keywords are driving people to your site, it still provides a ton of other valuable data – even data that can help you decide what subjects will drive traffic.

The landing page report shows your most popular landing pages. What are these pages about? If you create a new piece of content that is related or inspired by a strong-performing landing page, chances are the new content will also do well.

You can also add the secondary dimension: source in order to see where that traffic is coming from. That’ll do Google Analytics. That’ll do.

8. Join the PPC Side

If you really miss that old keyword data, it can be yours – for a price. Google doesn’t “not provide” data if you participate in paid advertising on Google via AdWords.

Google claims that they’re hiding keyword data as “not provided” for privacy purposes, but it’s hard to support that argument when paid users are given access to that “private” data. Some have gone as far as to label Google as an extortionist, but no matter how you feel about it, the plain truth is that AdWords users get that sweet keyword nectar while others don’t.

Some reasons to consider switching to PPC:

  • PPC users get keyword traffic data.
  • Organic SERPs are getting smaller and smaller, while paid advertising gets increasingly more prime real estate.
  • Google focuses a ton of effort towards advancing PPC. With awesome ad extensions like Offer Extensions and Click-to-Call Extensions, Google works hard to make PPC work for advertisers. If Google’s focuses on it, chances are you should be too.

Did we pique your interest? Check out our PPC Beginners FAQ. We’ve got the answers!

9. Use Your Expertise: Create Great Content & Abandon the Keyword Obsession

Don’t despair about not having as much keyword data from Google Analytics as in the golden years of days gone by. Maybe we’re trusting technology too much as it is – after all, isn’t your brain the most powerful analytics tool of all?

Remember, Googs doesn’t know your audience like you do. What does you audience enjoy? You know this better than anyone else, so take pride in that and use your insider knowledge to your advantage.

what is not provided

You bet you are!

The web is plastered with articles about why marketers need to focus more on creating great content than adhering to old school SEO practices. While the reality is that a lot of SEO work goes hand in hand with creating (and promoting) quality content, some SEO practices are holding marketers back, one being the obsession with keywords.

Google has already been moving away from keyword power and instead focusing more and more on semantics and the power of relationships. With Google putting more value into features like author rank, knowledge graph, personalized results, and social sharing, successful marketers won’t be spending all their time focusing on keywords.

Remember, 15-20% of Google searches have never been searched before. This means marketers have to get creative, imaging new queries and audience desires that Google could never give you, even if it wanted to. Ultimately, it will be your know-how and inventiveness that will result in excellent, top-notch content and rankings. So don’t get hung up on the “not provided.” We’re moving past keywords anyhow!

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PPC Blast
Nov 07, 2013

Great post. I agree completely with #9. It isn't so much about keyword data but about how you are getting the targeted audience that you are wanting to your website to perform the actions are you setting as goals. This can be achieved through marketing the type of content that drives these visitors and actions. I look forward to more posts from you!Thanks!  

Nov 07, 2013

This is a really great post. I always thought that the "not provided" traffic is some keywords that are not related to my blog or a mispelling. So Thnx for giving me the light and for sharing the tools to find those keywords because that data will help me improve my business.I'll be recommending this, great post Megan. Thnx :)

Megan Marrs
Mar 12, 2014

You are not alone! Thank you, glad you enjoyed the post!

Nov 08, 2013

WOW, I thought that "not provided" is happening to me only in this world and was worried about my website's SEO, but now that you have cleared the wheat from chaff, I am relaxed.Thanx a Ton :) Cheers!!  

Gene Wheeler
Nov 08, 2013

 Awesome! These ways really work! Now, no more not-provided data for me! Thanks a lot for these tips! 

Sid Silhouette
Nov 08, 2013

Great post.  You've covered all basic for keyword research.  You've also addressed one concern about 3rd party tools.  Like Traffic Travis, I don't know how reliable the software will be for keyword research.  And #9 is right on.  We may need to abandon being obsessed with keyword data. 

Nov 09, 2013

Yeah she left out something REALLY VERY important. If your only desire is to use the Keyword Planner DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT STARTING A CAMPAIGN UNLESS YOU WILL GO THROUGH WITH IT. Apparently THE SECOND you go to start up a campaign you absolutely MUST give them some billing information along with a budget etc. I had to learn the hard way, and I actually wanted to go through with the campaign. You see I wasn't finished with the Keyword Planner when I went to start the campaign, and I wanted to go back just to check out a thing or two but Google absolutely refused to let me go back to the Keyword Planner because I didn't give them any billing information. This comes across to me as being very pushy. A characteristic they have been notorious for when it comes to the changes they have made in YouTube after they brought the company. So if YOU ONLY WANT TO USE THE KEYWORD PLANNER, DO NOT ACCIDENTLY START A CAMPAIGN. Once you attempt to start a campaign Google will prevent you from using Keyword Planner until they have your money in their clutches.

Megan Marrs
Mar 12, 2014

Hey there, sorry you had a bad experience. I've used the keyword planner a ton of times though, and have never been asked for billing info and have never been charged, so I have a feeling your experience is the exception rather than the norm. The keyword planner is a really valuable tool and I don't want people to be discouraged from using it.

Nandini Rathi
Nov 11, 2013

Hi Megan, Thanks for sharing these useful tips! I couldn't agree more with you on #9. The recent Google Updates seems to move away from a strictly keyword-based approach. Especially Hummingbird update is now all about in-depth articles, which means establishing yourself as a subject matter expert in your niche is all the more important.It's all about "Know Your Audience" and addressing their needs and wants with your content. And, that is the reason Hummingbird update is also putting more emphasis on long tail keywords.There a number of useful ways for finding long-tail keywords - research your competitor's keywords, check the keywords & search terms your audience is using on social media in your niche, use Google Instant. 

Nov 12, 2013

Nice post - I think it definitely depends on what kind of site structure you have when it comes to this.  If your home page or main pages are ranking for most of the keywords, it's tough.  But there is a lot you can do with Google Analytics to at least get an idea of what keywords are coming through.  Websites employing a content strategy can certainly gain a lot of information out of the landing page report.

Bill Treloar
Nov 13, 2013

I'm trying your first approach, and I'm using Google's Site Search on my site. When I do a search, I don't get the kind of URL you discuss, with a parameter. What I get is a Google page with a search that says something like:canonicalization site:rankmagic.comShould I therefore ignore the query parameter portion of your suggestion?  

Nov 24, 2013

Hi Megan!Yes I totally agree with you here.Google doesn’t know our audience like we do. What does our audienceenjoy and prefer.  We really know it better that anybody else. I amactually using Google Analytics and I noticed that the term “not provided” is eating up the majority of my keyword data. Now I know the reason why this term is appearing. 

Apr 05, 2015

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May 22, 2015

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dieu tri ung thu co tu cung
Sep 04, 2015

Gгeat post. I am experiencing ɑ few of thеse issues aѕ wеll..

Dec 03, 2013

Hey Megan, We featured you in our monthly round up http://www.northcutt.com/blog/2013/12/november-resource-round-up-best-of-seo-social-media-content-marketing/ Cheers!

gregory smith
Dec 15, 2013

Hello,This is a great piece. As an SEO things are becoming more and more difficult, but.. as SEO's were always prepared to deal with and incorperate change. Change comes pretty often in our industry.The above strategies you've listed are the exact ways I've been using, to find keyword data. I appreciate you giving all the secrets away! :0)  Thanks for everything,Greg Smith

aristo biotech
Dec 22, 2013

Hello,A really helpful article. Keywords from bing and other search helps.Thanks Megan 

Jan 16, 2014

Thanks for the detailed post Megan! I agree with number 9 mainly that the content should be appealing and overall make sense. Keywords still matter as far as the 80-85%! :)We worked on a tool to find the not provided keywords at http://keyseo.io would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on it. So we incorporated the things you mentioned and also our own search engine queries.Looking forward to a follow up article when not provided is 100%-Andrew

Jan 16, 2014

Hi Megan,Nice post! I wanted to contribute my 2 cents to your point #7. In some cases, this can provide very valuable insight.If you have landing pages that are unique to branded search vs. un-branded search, you can derive some very helpful information to make good business decisions.My specific example is a bit long for a comment, but here is a link to the full analysis:DPMG Blog: How to use landing pages and segments to make up for (not provided)

Bilal Ahmad
Jan 31, 2014

Google Webmaster Tools can provide the data. All the pages listed under the "Top Pages" can give a clear idea about what are all these "Not Provided" keywords.

Sukhen Tanch
Feb 12, 2014

Hi Megan Marrs,1st I think Google cannot control all analytics users - robot will be eat :D , like other apps/plugins, it's will go downdustbin. Now I think technology will mad after 5 years - really it's not fun. However a good blogger can be provideactual reports - like your article. Thanks for sharing helpful resource. Sukhen  

Feb 15, 2014

I'm agree with you - Maximum time I see that maximum search pharse not provided on my analytics account. I don't no what reason and why did not provide kewoard data - In this resource will assist every blogger and also victim......... Thanks for your kind information.

Amod Oke
Feb 19, 2014

Totally misleading post.After your 4 points, NONE OF THE POINTS SHOW HOW TO GET "NOT PROVIDED" KEYWORD DATA BACK. 

Feb 22, 2014

Thanks for sharing deeper guidance on using Google's KWP! Nice! Not provided is much bigger of an issue than what i had anticipated, it's interesting looking at the story and timeline. One thing is for certain, proving organic keywords with actions within the site takes more resources. My colleague wrote a great piece on that along with Google Not Provided dashboards for GA: http://www.spydertrap.com/blog/2014/02/ultimate-guide-to-google-not-provided/

Mar 01, 2014

Awesome work done. It really worked for me. I wish google change their policy as to why they don't provide complete information to the clients.

Mar 01, 2014

Just connected my Google Analytics to my website. Wish me luck!

Make Money Australia Online
Apr 01, 2014

D'you know, I've seen that Not provided link in my analytics account before but havn't really paid it any heed until now.And... ironically just bought some google analytics bible from some well known dude from amazon recently - it's like 700 pages...I'm feeling a little ripped off right now... but ??? arn't there any 3rd party services or plugins that can track the same dataor is that information not even passed to the page where a 3rd party software could read it? Google are definatly trying to eliminate SEO's it seems. They hate it when they are not controlling who is making money online by having complete control over ranking pages... 

May 09, 2014

I think another way might be to select the orgainic keywords and then add the landing page as the secondary dimention. That way when you come to look you might gain an idea of what was coming up as the keyword becuase the page will tell you what might have bought them into your site.Match this with webmaster tools and you might be able to make a better guess as to what volume and keyword is bring in your visitors  

Aug 06, 2014

What should I do with all those "key words" where should I put them at my site? If I will just type hundreds of related words in line or columns in some of my client accesible page it will look weird. Can you tell me where you actually typing these key words to be more visible for SE?  Thanks Dan

Sep 01, 2014

Great article! Thank you! 

John @ Building Financial Freedom
Sep 29, 2014

Hi there. First, great job with this extremely useful post! The reason I'm commenting today is because I have a question and you seem like the best shot at getting an answer. It's somewhat unrelated, but I'm recently getting several google search keywords that are showing up as my url. For example, in the keyword section it shows buildfinancialfreedom dot net as the keyword used to find my site. Being a new blog, i didn't expect people to be searching specifically using my URL. Are you aware of any other traffic sources that cause this to show up in Analytics? It's happening quite frequently. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!

jjuice type
Oct 20, 2014

good information

Kiralık Vinç
Oct 21, 2014

Thanks so much bro Theodore for the awesome tips. It works so well for me. (((((:

Nov 13, 2014

All these things are so complicated to set up, and then you're still just guessing at data. I have been using AuthorityLabs for a while and it has a very cool "now provided" feature that gives you a report they call "now provided" if you link you Google Analytics profile.Best of all they have a 30 day free trial so it costs nothing to test it out if you want to .

Feb 03, 2015

thank you for sharing, loved reading your post

Apr 08, 2015

Number 8 is bad advice. It would only give you access to the keywords where users have clicked on your advert. Given money to Google will no magically unlock the 'not provided'.

Abdillah Siregar
Jun 01, 2015

Thanks For great information, i new in seo, i have question how to download all keywords data from google analystics to my computer for analys , Thanks advance

Koemsie ly
Jul 23, 2015

Great post! Your post is very useful for me. I will try to do what you tell. Thanks you!

Aug 13, 2015

Really great and useful post, thanks for sharing! now I m going to share your post on my page and profile . Thanks again Keep up the good work ;-) Asma

Sep 16, 2015

Superb post...

Nov 10, 2015

nice post thanks for sharing

branded sms
Aug 18, 2016

Your posts share your work quality with us, It shows how you are loyal to your work and research thing.

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