Monitoring search keywords

How to monitor keywords despite Google Analytics' "not provided"

Even if you didn't hear about Google's decision to hide all of its search keyword data behind the dreaded "not provided" catchall, you will no doubt have felt its effects.

Being able to determine which search terms are driving Web traffic and revenue is obviously pretty useful for maximizing conversions and adding new content, amongst other things.

Google analytic showing not provided SEO keyword data

Now that Google has cut off that particular stream of information, businesses and marketers need to be resourceful about how they gather analytics relating to keywords and organic search traffic.

This article will show you a few strategies for gaining insight into the search terms that drive your traffic and which ones to target going forward.

Use SEMRush for search analytics

While Google has stopped sharing keyword data, it is still possible to gain access to this type of information using an online keyword research tool like SEMRush.

They independently collect vast amounts of search related data - somewhere in the region of 100 000 000 keywords and 45 000 000 domains are monitored by them.

And, recently, they have upgraded their interface to show off live data - updated every 15 minutes or so, which makes this a really valuable tool in my opinion.

SEMRush provides a nice neat interface to show off, amongst other things, the keywords that your domain ranks for - including recent new and lost keywords:

SEMRush showing SEO keyword data not available in Google Analytics

In distinct contrast to Google Analytics, this gives you a far more in-depth and helpful overview of the keywords your blog or site ranks for:

SEMRush organic keyword stats

So, if your business is suffering from poor rankings and organic search traffic in Google, then SEMRush is likely to be a great option to help you understand where your site is losing out to competitors (something that is also tracked in SEMRush).

While you can access SEMRush for free, you may need to sign up to a paid plan (for a little while anyway) to get at their in-depth analytics. You can learn more about SEMRush at our list of top five SEO services.

Use Google Trends & Google Adwords for keyword research

While SEMRush can tell you a lot about the search keywords your site ranks for, and how this compares to your competitors, it can't do as good a job researching the actual popularity of those phrases as Google.

Despite Google clamping down on the information it provides via Analytics, it still provides two very powerful tools for keyword research.

1. Google Trends

Google trends gives you a really versatile tool for examining how the popularity of certain keywords evolves and changes over time and by region.

It's quite easy, for example, to compare the brand popularity of two leading business accounting software programs, FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online using Google Trends:

This type of data gives your keyword research an extra dimension because a search for something like "online accounting software" on Google itself may not give such a detailed picture.

2. Keyword Planner

While marketers are tearing their hair out trying to figure out what keywords are driving their traffic, advertisers still have it easy - thanks to Google Keyword Planner.

Google has to make keyword data available to advertisers because they need this information in order to determine their ad buying and bidding strategies.

The keyword planner allows you to quickly learn everything you need to know about a particular keyword (plus plenty of closely related search terms), with data filtered by specific regions, languages, and plenty more:

Google KeyWord Planner showing in-depth search phrase analytics

While this information doesn't tell you anything about the search terms your site ranks for, it does tell you pretty much everything you need to know in order to target content properly.

Remember though, that Google has taken a far more stern stance on keyword stuffing. It's more important than ever to write naturally - for humans. But, that doesn't mean you can't give yourself a slight advantage by understanding which SEO keywords are juicy and which aren't.

Hopefully, by replacing the lost organic keyword data in Analytics with a combination of the above three keyword tools, you'll still be able to keep your content strategy on target to drive plenty of conversions and revenue.

What other tools are useful for content marketing purposes? How have you adapted to the shortfall in keyword data?

Share your SEO tips and ideas in the comments.

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Does Google suck, or do you? Pic by Dean Hochman

Would you love to get completely irrelevant traffic from Google's organic search results? How about absolutely no traffic at all? Or zombie traffic that doesn't do anything?

Get rid of that pesky, high converting traffic that floods in via relevant keywords and drives revenue, builds authority and trust, and generally makes life easier. I can even show you how to have ad placeholder pages outrank your own site for a search on your own domain.

SEO Guide. Pic by Dinukshan Kuruppu

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important because it can mean the difference between capturing high page rankings in Google, for relevant keywords, and remaining undiscovered and anonymous.

Web traffic is the lifeblood of any blog or business that relies on the Internet to generate leads and make sales. Organic traffic from search engines is generally the largest (and most valuable), single source of traffic making it a vital component of any successful online venture.