Google Unknown Search Terms

How to Check Google’s ‘Unknown Search Terms’ For WordPress Blog

How to Unlock Your Google Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided Keywords in Google Analytics:

Google Analytics is a superb resource for any website owner. From small websites to Government organization websites, Google Analytics is a bonanza of useful information about visitor behavior & trends to find out Google Unknown Search Terms.

However, there is 1 area where Google Analytics discourage its users: The organic search terms report. Increasing number of results in this part of Analytics are shown as ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ – not much use when you are trying to find out what people are searching for.


The ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ is lifted to paid search results. It’s just the organic search results that are often hidden from the view.

Why Search Data is Hidden & showing the result as “Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided”?

In October 2011, Google changed the way it harvests data from search to protect users’ privacy.

If a user is logged into any Google product (Like Gmail (or) any other Google Account) when searching, their search is conducted over the SSL certificate. As such, the referral data related to that search is hidden.

Referral data includes some useful information like the keywords used to perform that search. However, Google can see this information at anytime, but website owners & Analytics account admins cannot access to see it.

This missing data leaves a gap in our analytics reports, making it difficult for us to know the ROI of specific keywords we rank for, in organic search results.

Fortunately, there are few work outs that can reveal the data behind these figures.

How to Unlock ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ Results

Before we get into this useful guide, it’s a very good idea to verify just how many of your organic search keywords are listed as ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ & whether this is increasing day by day. You will need to assess whether it’s worth putting your time into decoding these results before you go forward, since none of these techniques provides a single solution.

1st Method: Understand User Behavior With Landing Page Reports – Google Unknown Search Terms

The first way to get around the ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ result is to mine Google Analytics for other information that will declare more about those visitors & what they were doing on your site.

Google Unknown Search Terms

  • In your Analytics account, Go to Admin and then Select Profiles.
  • Click on the name of the profile that you want to work with & select the Filters tab.
  • Now create a new Filter in your Analytics Account.

Google Unknown Search Terms

The target of this filter is to extract the ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ terms. To do this, extract the URL & rewrite the 2 in place of the original ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ text. Although this doesn’t announce the exact keyword, it will help you to find out where that traffic is going & whether you need to dig deeper with other techniques. (The important part – the rewrite – is highlighted in red in our screenshot.)

Note: This filter can not be applied to historical data, you will see it in action for new visits only.

2nd Method: Use Traffic Sources Data – Google Unknown Search Terms

In Google Analytics, there is a 2nd set of metrics that can help you to analyze your most popular keywords. The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) report is designed especially for this purpose.

Google Unknown Search Terms

Data in this report is 2 days out of date & it’s clean to say that the metrics here are limited scope. If you’re really handling a busy website, Traffic Sources won’t give you the detail you need to perfectly analyze your queries & landing pages, the number of results it can show is limited.

However, for small websites, this report is worth a look for a very basic overview of what’s happening with organic search on your site.

Method 3: Examine AdWords Data – Google Unknown Search Terms

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ is only an issue for organic search questions. Paid search isn’t affected. That means you can prevent the problems caused by ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ results by paying for Adwords & averaging the response rates to keywords via PPC. These are shown in the Google Analytics as “Matched Search Queries”.

Google Unknown Search Terms

Note: This isn’t an entirely accurate solution, the data shown in Adwords is only related to traffic that you have paid for, and not the organic traffic. if you have the cash to spend on keyword research, it’s one more way to boost your understanding of user behavior & make your SEO research more useful.

Method 4: Use Webmaster Tools – Google Unknown Search Terms

Google’s Webmaster Tools dashboard is regular as comprehensive as Google Analytics, but in this situation, the results it gathers does add some value. Especially, you can see basic overview of keywords that lead visitors to your website in the Traffic menu, under Search Queries.

Google Unknown Search Terms
Google Unknown Search Terms

Below this graph you’ll find a pretty comprehensive list of your website’s keyword performance as shown in below image:

Google Unknown Search Terms

A nice treat that Google Webmaster Tools does give you: It will tell you the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your keywords from Google Search. Sometimes a little more polishing up on your title tags & meta-descriptions can help increase the Click Through Rate (CTR) of these keywords.

Finally, Google Webmaster Tools reveals you an approximate amount of search impressions your keywords are attracting. If you know that a certain keyword is attracting a large number of impressions, it may be in your best activity to put a little more effort towards ranking for that keyword to obtain more traffic. 1 way to do this is to simply expand your content related to this keyword.

Final  words:
Google’s ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’ data is a controversial topic, & there’s no fail-safe way to access the data. Anyway, if you are losing a significant amount of statistical data Google keywords to ‘Unknown Search Terms (or) Not Provided’, it’s certainly worth putting some time to overcome the problem. Implementing 1 (or) more workarounds may help you to improve your understanding of organic keywords & get better insights into your missing keyword statistics.


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