Why are Google Analytics keywords 'not provided'?

Keywords are what search engines are built on. For example, we're a digital agency near Manchester working with Umbraco - so we might see how we're doing on these keywords - if we don't like what we see then perhaps it's time to tinker with some words and maybe throw in a few more 'Umbracos'!

If you check out your Google Analytics account and analyse the your acquisition channels, you'll likely find that the majority of keywords show status as 'not provided'. This represents 65% of organic traffic on our site and will have increased year on year. How very un-insightful!

So why don't Google want us to see these keywords? Couldn't they be useful in analysing who's visiting our site? Well potentially, yes. However, Google are pushing to make the internet more secure, and this is symptomatic of keeping people's data private. They have been encrypted, hence you can't see them. So not all bad. 

But if we can't see these words, how can we know what's going on? This is something of a bone of contention amongst SEO experts with many blog posts offering means to unlock this potentially very useful data. But like Trump, it is what it is and we need to deal with it. It's not a new thing, but is on the rise and it will be the way for the foreseeable.

We suggest turning this on its head and seeing it as a positive move...

We're not in the business of writing spammy SEO horror content (even some of the broadsheets are guilty of this lately). The way we see it is that if everyone's blindfolded, surely at least we have an even playing field and the spammers don't get the edge on us. We're all forced to write quality, meaningful content. With this in mind, let's consider a more modern approach to content strategy...


1) Write content that is relevant and useful to your audience.

2) Track and monitor those posts and landing pages for effectiveness

3) Promote your content (eg. social media) to ensure it gets read

4) Create channels for engagement

5) Measure conversion

So let's all breathe a sigh of relief and stop wasting time obsessing over keyword effectiveness. Thankfully, content is still king.