“Recover” (not provided) keywords in Google Analytics

As a follow-up to my post on (not provided) , in this post I give you *one* of the methods I use for capturing “(not provided)” keywords in Google Analytics. Just to be clear this solution is far from perfect and you will remain frustrated. As I said in my previous post, short of a Google Webmaster Tools API, there is no (not provided) silver bullet.

First of all, let us bow our heads in loving memory of our organic keywords.

for my homies here's one

There.

Now let’s use a method we already use as part of our page content creation process: content-related tags. In this exercise, we need to identify the top 5/10 keywords per page that are most relevant to the page content. If you use any decent CMS, your publishing process should already force you to type those in as you create content.

If we take for example my previous post on (not provided), here are the tags I had defined for the post:

fear and loathing
google analytics
https
not provided
organic search
privacy
seo
ssl
this is bat country
web analytics

Pretty straightforward, right? Now let’s stick these keywords in a string, separated by spaces, which should give you the following:

“fear-and-loathing google-analytics https not-provided organic-search privacy seo ssl this-is-bat-country web-analytics»

In this case, I added a dash as a separator for spaces within expressions. Let us ensure that this string does not exceed 120 characters. What do we do with this string, you ask? Well, let’s capture it with a Google Analytics custom variable, before the _trackPageview call:

_gaq.push('_setCustomVar',2,'tags','fear-and-loathing google-analytics https not-provided organic-search privacy seo ssl this-is-bat-country web-analytics',3);

This will store the tags in custom variable #2 at the page level (level 3).
If you use WordPress, the Google Analytics plug-in by Yoast does this for you automatically with a little modification to capture more than 60 characters.
PRO TIP: your custom variable name/value combo cannot exceed 128 characters.

Your content is viewed, traffic is registered, graphs go up and down in Google Analytics. Yay.

Now let’s tackle reporting: how about we build a custom report that shows us tags (keywords) by landing pages generated by (not provided) organic searches? I knew you’d agree with me 😉

Start by creating a custom report, which we will call “(not provided) keywords by landing page”

First, choose dimensions (from the green section, in this order):

  • Destination page
  • Custom Variable (Value 02)

Then select metrics (from the blue section, in this order):

  • Visits
  • Bounce Rate

Finally, choose a filter that will pre-configure the report to show visits from Google organic searches that returned a (not provided) keyword:

Include > Keyword > Exact > (not provided)

Here is what your custom report creation screen should look like:

custom report not provided creation EN
PRO TIP: Click here to copy this (not provided) custom report  to your profile(s).

And voila! (pardon my French)

The result is a list of your landing pages followed by keywords (tags) captured on these landing pages. With the exception of brand keywords, there is a very high probability that the keyword searched on Google matches one of the keywords captured via the tags.

Custom report – level 1:

custom report not provided EN step 2Custom report – level 2:

custom report not provided EN step 1

(not provided) “recovery” – a conclusion:

Again, this method is far from perfect but it is certainly one that will bring the most value in a “(not provided)” world.

I intend to test other ideas involving landing page events so stay tuned for more (not provided) fun!

Questions? Other solutions? Leave a constructive comment!

“Recover” (not provided) keywords in Google Analytics was last modified: May 13th, 2014 by Julien Coquet

Julien Coquet

Expert de la mesure d’audience sur Internet depuis plus de 15 ans, Julien Coquet est consultant senior digital analytics et responsable produit et évangélisation pour Hub’Scan, une solution d’assurance qualité du marquage analytics.

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