Why are ‘keywords not provided’ in Google Analytics?

TL;DR – ‘Keywords not provided’ in Google Analytics is due to Google’s move to protect user search queries for privacy reasons. As a result, specific organic search keywords data became hidden. However, alternatives like Google Search Console and third-party SEO tools can provide insights into search queries.

In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing and SEO, there are few topics that spark as much discussion as the ‘keywords not provided’ message seen in Google Analytics. So, why has Google shielded these organic search keywords, and what does it mean for website owners and marketers?

The Shift to User Privacy

The ‘keywords not provided’ conundrum began in 2011 when Google made the move to secure its search queries by default using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). The primary reason behind this decision was user privacy. Google wanted to protect the search terms of searchers, ensuring their queries remained confidential, especially when logged into their Google accounts.

Impact on Google Analytics

With this shift, website owners using Google Analytics noticed that most of their organic keywords data began to show up as ‘not provided’. Instead of seeing specific keywords that visitors used to find their website, they were met with this placeholder. This change left a gap in analytics data and metrics, making it harder for marketers to refine their SEO strategy based on keyword data.

Alternative Solutions and Workarounds

  1. Google Search Console: While Google Analytics may no longer provide all keyword specifics, Google Search Console (GSC) offers a valuable alternative. The queries report in GSC provides insights into the search queries that bring users to your website. By integrating your Google Analytics account with GSC, you can still get a sense of which keywords are driving organic traffic.
  2. Landing Pages Report: In Google Analytics, the landing pages report can offer clues about user intent. By examining which pages users land on from organic search, you can infer potential search terms.
  3. Google Ads and AdWords: For those invested in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, Google Ads (formerly AdWords) provides keyword data for your ads. This method isn’t a direct replacement for missing organic data but can give insights into keyword performance and click-through rate (CTR).
  4. Third-Party SEO Tools: Several SEO tools in the market can help in keyword research and provide estimates on organic search keywords, filling the gap left by ‘keywords not provided’.
  5. Google Analytics 4 (GA4): The next generation of Google Analytics, GA4, has been introduced with new features. While it doesn’t fully resolve the ‘not provided’ issue, there are tutorials available that guide users on optimizing their data collection methods.

The Future of Keyword Data

The trend toward user privacy is not unique to Google. Other search engines and platforms are following suit. While organic search insights in Google Analytics may be limited, the emphasis is on understanding the user experience. Marketers are encouraged to use Google Search Console, leverage SEO tools, and focus on holistic SEO optimization that goes beyond just keywords.


The ‘keywords not provided’ challenge in Google Analytics was a game-changer for digital marketing and SEO professionals. However, with the know-how and the right tools like Google Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console, it’s still possible to craft effective strategies. The focus now shifts from pure keyword optimization to understanding user intent, improving site content, and offering the best possible user experience.


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  • Why are keywords not provided in google analytics?

Published on: 2023-03-31
Updated on: 2023-10-22

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Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.