How to increase website promotion efficiency with the help of not provided segment

Google Analytics is a powerful instrument to gather and analyze statistics – it is a box with treasures as it helps to find out about users’ behavior tendency on your website. It seems that if you have set up Google Analytics, you will have a direct access to all the information regarding your website visitors’ activity. However, it’s not quite true.

Efficiency image from Shutterstock

Standard Google Analytics reports have blank areas. They are blank, because the data could not be collected and sent to the website owners. The reason behind that is that these data is deliberately concealed by Google in order to keep information about the search engine users confidential. Specifically, we are talking about such groups as not provided and not set.

On the 18 th of October, 2011 Google announced that if the user signed in any Google service , like Gmail, YouTube and other, and he is performing search on Google,  Google Analytics reports will not show the keywords which brought the user to the website. All such keywords will be displayed as “not provided”, and no information about search queries will be revealed.

In this article we are going to talk more in-depth about not provided segment which you can see in the organic search report. Not provided is a segment containing all search queries of users who were authorized when searched on Google. However, what these search queries were exactly we don’t know.

We would like to note, that for many websites not provided segment makes up a solid part of the total traffic to the website, meaning that substantial amount of data as to the keywords are not available to the website owners. If such segment share steadily grows, it can bring serious difficulties for website traffic analysis and further promotion. That is why we would like to teach you how to make the most out of keyword reports.

Let’s look at several approached for analyzing and deciphering not provided traffic.

Firstly, we will define several moments which will help us answer the main question.

1.    Calculate the not provided share in the whole organic search traffic in order to understand how essential not provided traffic is for our website.

In Google Analytics in the left-hand panel choose Traffic Sources – Sources  – Search – Organic and select the required period. As a result, receive the following table.

It is advisable to pay attention to the following moments:

1)    Not provided segment position on the keyword list, sorted by number of visits;

2)    Not provided share in the total number of visits from organic search.

If the not provided segment is among top five, and its share is more than 10% of the total traffic, then we recommend to consider this group of visits more precisely.

In our case the not provided segment is in the first place by the number of visits and makes up over 70% of the total organic traffic. It is a huge amount which means not provided impact on overall traffic is essential. That is why we should try to get more information out of this segment.

2.    Decipher not provided with the help of keywords.

Here we will consider the most important metrics for not provided segment, such as: number of visits and unique visits, % of new visits, bounce rate, pages viewed per visit, conversion rate and number of goals converted. In order to avoid necessity to jump from one sheet to another and be able see all the metrics at once, we advise to compose custom report.

Navigate to Customization – Custom Reports – New Custom report. Then specify the report structure, as it is shown in the picture, and select filter “organic” to sort out the traffic from organic search results.

In the end, you will receive the following table:

For more comprehensive picture, we calculated:

1) each keyword share in the total number of visits;

2) % of registrations each keyword has driven in the total amount of signups.

Now we have all the keywords divide into several key groups and try to find a group with characteristics similar to not provided segment (similar  % New Visits rate, Bounce Rate, etc.).  If we are lucky enough to detect such group, we can suggest that peculiarities of users’ behavior of this group are more or less the same with not provided segment users’ activity.

3. Unlocking not provided through landing pages

We can look at landing pages at which visitors from not provided segment arrived. To do this, go to Google Analytics and select Traffic Sources – Sources– Search Organic. Click on not provided entry and choose as secondary dimension landing page. In the end you will receive something like this:

From the table above, for example, we can see that the most visitors arrived at the main page, so we can suggest that the users used keywords for which this page is being ranked well in the search results. Also we can see that the percentage of new visitors in this group is just a little above site average and bounce rate is even below the average level across the website. The same goes for other entries on the table. You can analyze any of them and get insight on users’ behavior, suggest keywords they used and see whether this group have resembles with other groups about which you know more information.  As a result of such landing page study you can also find out whether most of not provided search queries are branded keywords or commercial keywords which will be helpful knowledge for future marketing strategy.

4. How AdWords can help overcome not provided segment

As additional method to verify the results obtained about the not provided segment, you can use the data you received form Google AdWords.  Not provided is appears in organic search reports only, as to the paid traffic, this group doesn’t exist.  That is why as a solution to the problem, you can run an advertising campaign in the paid search results and then measure the response rate for e4ach keyword. This information you will be able to see in Google Analytics under Advertising – AdWords – Matched Search Queries.

By comparing keyword lists from organic and paid search you can confirm or disprove the suggestion as to the not provided traffic. When comparing keywords from organic and paid search results, we advise to separate the traffic from tablets and desktop computers in order to avoid the discrepancy caused by website mobile versions and ad display on different devices. After you have obtained two keyword lists, compare them by such metrics as traffic share, % new visits, conversion rate, etc. – this will help you find out whether the initial suggestion was correct.

We recommend using this approach only if you want to check your assumption made earlier, because in the Matched Search Queries report you will see only paid search queries information. Those queries, for which users saw your ad and clicked it, can either duplicate the organic search keywords or be different from them.


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