In 2013, Google began encrypting a higher percentage of searches with their migration to secure search, hiding organic keyword data whenever a search is done via secure search. As a result, more branded and non-branded terms have been grouped into a (Not Provided) bucket in Google Analytics. With less available data, Not Provided has been a thorn in every SEO’s side and we now have to change the way we think about keyword data and reporting SEO efforts to our clients. The SEO community has come up with a few ways to combat this inconvenience, including getting data from Bing! and Yahoo or paid search, but there’s another way to do this – through website content.
Content Keyword Mapping
While Google Analytics keyword data is dwindling, GA still provides all landing page data (like number of visitors, bounce rate, and goal completions), so we can reverse engineer keyword data by looking at the information that is still available within content. By optimizing each page with a specific set of keywords, we can determine the performance of each keyword grouping based on the page’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Since website pages are already segmented by topic, mapping keywords to them is a way to use the data to circumvent Not Provided keyword encryption.
Below is an example of a keyword mapping matrix. Since I’m a potato enthusiast, I filled it out with potato-based keywords.
How to do Keyword Mapping
- Step 1: Select the URLs you want to target
- Step 2: Group the targeted keywords based on similarity of subject, and match these with targeted URLs
- Keep keyword groupings fairly small to avoid over-optimization of the page and to focus on one search intent
- Look for opportunities to break out sub-categories
- In this example, I could create a category for types of fries, including waffle fries, curly fries, shoestring fries and steak cut fries
- This is also a good exercise for revealing content creation opportunities. If the subcategory of keywords can not be matched to a relevant URL, the site may have an opportunity to reach more visitors by offering detailed information about the subject.
- Step 3: Optimize the onsite copy as well as the meta and h1 tags to represent the keywords you want to track
- Step 4: Add search volume data to the matrix by keyword
- Step 5: Add projected rank and click-through-rates to calculate estimated number of monthly visitors
Use the Data to Get Visitor Estimates
Now, the keyword mapping matrix includes search volume for individual keywords as well as the search volume for the entire category. This prioritizes the keywords and estimates the number of possible views the search engine listing can obtain from optimization.
To customize your keyword matrix and provide an estimate of organic visitors, you can add in columns for projected rank and click-through-rate. The example below shows a fictional estimate of monthly visitors to website.com/potatoes. Simply fill in the numbers and multiply monthly search volume per keyword by the click-through-rate to get the average number of monthly visitors. Presto – we’ve got Not Provided data!
Whether this is for your own company or for a client, keyword mapping is a great way to combat the effects of secure search and provide a decent estimate of keywords’ contribution to organic visitors. Hope this helps!