What to Do About Google Analytics’ Not Provided

Today I’m going to cover the frustrations we’re all feeling since (not provided) as become so much more prevalent in Google Analytics.

What is Not Provided?

For a long time Google provided keywords in our reports for organic search traffic from Google. This allowed us to really dig deep into how people were getting to our websites and how well our content was performing to capture visitors from search. Google no longer gives us this data but instead shows “(not provided)”.

Without this data, it can be really aggravating to try to figure out how we can do better to make our content perform at attracting new visitors from search.

While I’m not exactly sure why Google is doing this, I don’t think it is likely that we will go back to an era with lot of keyword data from google.

In all likelihood they want us as publishers to focus less on keywords and more on providing great content for our users.

It’s kind of a catch 22. Having keyword data can help us make better content but with keywords, we can get obsessive about them and produce really crappy content.

How to Get Around Not Provided

So what can we do now that Google isn’t providing lots of data for us for keywords?

Well it’s the same things we need to do anyway to make sure our content is performing well.

First, we need to isolate organic traffic from all of our traffic by using segmentation.

Segmentation allows us to look only at a small segment of our data in Google Analytics, which important to analyzing our blog and website performance.

Think of it this way: does everyone who gets to your website get there for the same reasons? Nope! And segmentation helps you find out why.

After you segment out traffic, be sure to get rid of any traffic that isn’t worthwhile after doing a cursory analysis of it.

What is crappy traffic? traffic that immediately bounced at 00:00:00. This traffic is either bots or were people who didn’t even really let to page load before deciding to navigate away. While there will be some people who navigate away immediately, it’s usually for reasons you can’t control through content.

It is usually because your server was too slow to load, their internet wasn’t working, or they didn’t like when they saw the first little pieces of your website, like your title. If you have your Google Analytics code in your header, this is especially true. However, if you have your code in another place on your site, this might not be true!

After segmenting data and getting rid of crappy traffic, the next step is to start inspecting landing pages and learning about what people see when they get there. You can use tools to figure out how long it takes to read the page and different sections your content. This can help you figure out how much time it took people, on average, to read the content and how far they might have read.

It’s also important to figure out how long it takes to skip the content to see if it’s relevant. Try skimming through your article quickly and see how many seconds you spend doing it.

Analyzing your Traffic with Not Provided

Now that you know this information, you can judge how invested traffic was to reading your content and how much they might have read.

Take a look at what happened to the traffic that visited. Isolate it into even more segments, putting people who only viewed one page in one group and everyone that viewed multiple pages into another group.

Look at the traffic that only visited one page and how long they stayed on the page. You can break up the data by looking at other information, such as location, or other groupings to help you figure out what happened. How long did the stay? did they skim the page? Did they leave before they could have skimmed it? Did they read it almost all the way through?

When you skim the page, what do you notice about your content? does it do a lot to attract people who are just skimming? or is it difficult to do that?

Then read through it for as long as the average person did who only viewed that page, how far did you get? what do you notice about the place where they left? This isn’t a fool-proof method but can give you some great insights into your traffic.

The next step is to look at the groups of people who visited more than one page. It’s a bit more difficult to see how long they spent reading each page because google doesn’t let you divide out that information to that level. But what’s important here is to look at what they did once they landed on your website.

A good place to look first is in behaviors and see where they went after landing on that page. Because you’ve segmented out the data into people who only looked at more than one page, you shouldn’t see drop-off till at least the second page.

How did they get to that second page? What link did they click on? Why do you think they went to that second page? What might they have been looking for if they clicked through to another page quickly? Or after spending a lot of time on the first page?

Of course, this is all a long learning process and can take a really long time to figure out exactly what people were looking for when they got to your website. But hey, nothing is easy if it’s meaningful right?

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Till next time, Keep blogging!