PPC Keywords Going ‘(not provided)’ – What does it mean?


Last week we published a post about Google’s announcement regarding blocking keywords data from Adwords PPC campaigns. Since then, we’ve read a lot of different opinions and a lot of information has been released about this topic. We’ve decided to take an impartial look at this to make sense of the subject and make things clearer for all you PPC advertisers.

How you could optimize your PPC campaigns before this change

Before Google started blocking PPC keywords, you could send the search terms information to your own personal business intelligence platform and follow up on the complete funnel of each search term – from the keyword you’ve placed the bid on, through the actual search term and with every step of the conversion funnel. This information was great for PPC strategies such as location search terms that you should start bidding on or finding the weak and strong points in your funnel per search term.

How you can optimize your PPC campaigns following this change

If you’re using a personal BI system, you’ve probably already started seeing queries in the search terms column such as ‘google.com’.

Just as it was with the (not provided) keywords, in your Google Analytics account, the percentage of such queries is going to increase over time.

What you can still do is download the search terms report directly from Google Adwords. The default columns are:

  • The campaign name
  • The match type
  • The search term
  • The ad group
  • Different performance metrics such as clicks, impressions etc.

But you can also add columns such as ‘Keyword’ and identify the keyword you’ve placed the bid on (per search term) that actually sent traffic to your landing page.

So getting the keywords and search terms is still simple enough, but combining this data together with your funnel, using your own personal BI, is not going to be possible from now on. When you’re optimizing your campaigns based on two parameters – keywords & stages of funnel, it’s important to have the stats for both combined. A way to bypass this, while relying solely on reports from Adwords is to define every step in your funnel as a goal and give it some value, even if it’s very low.

For example:

If your funnel includes – reaching the landing page, clicking on a registration form, filling out your credit card details and then reaching a success page, you can add the credit card page as a goal, give it some kind of a value – let’s say $0.3, and then include in your search terms report the column – ‘Total conv.value’.

Now you’ll be able to see, for each search term, if it got to the final success page or stopped on the way and identify weak and strong points in your funnel.

So, to summarize it all, with the PPC keywords joining the (not provided) family, the information you get from the search terms report is enough for basic optimization of your search campaigns. There’s no reason to be alarmed – you’ll still be able to see exactly which search terms are directing paid traffic to you. However, if you’re used to running more advanced optimization which includes things such as funnel adjustments per keyword, you won’t be able to do that anymore using your own BI, but there are different ways to bypass it while relying on data from Adwords reports.

About the Author -

Natalie Halimi is the Head of Marketing Communications & Education at SimilarWeb. With over 10 years of experience in marketing, Natalie has promoted services and products in the B2C and B2B arenas, in various industries.

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