How to Analyze Your Non-Branded Traffic in Google Analytics

If you’ve tried to look for keyword data in your Google Analytics profile, you’ve probably noticed that the most common “keyword” driving traffic to your site is ‘(not provided)’. In 2011, Google began restricting the keyword data they sent to websites, claiming it would never exceed 10-15%. However, the percent of keywords restricted has been steadily climbing since then. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to see the restricted keyword information, but we can use the limited sample provided to us to examine trends from your non-branded traffic.

Why is non-branded traffic so important? Non-branded traffic represents users who are looking for your products, services, or content but are not aware of you by name. This is a chance for you to demonstrate your website’s value and attract new users. Non-branded keywords are incredibly important.

Step 1: Determine the amount of non-restricted keyword data in your Google Analytics reports.

To do this, go to Acquisition > Keywords > Organic. The ‘(not provided)’ category will be the first keyword listed. Subtract the number of sessions to the right of ‘(not provided)’ from the total listed above it. In the figure below, we would be left with 44 sessions. 

Step 2: Create and apply a Segment for your non-branded traffic.

Click the ‘Add Segment’ button at the top of any report in your Google Analytics reporting tab (shown below). Then click the red ‘+ New Segment’ button below ‘All sessions.’

Now create the segment pictured below. In the last text box, enter your company name. You may need to add additional keywords to filter out for any additional proprietary terms or common misspellings of your company name. If you go to the organic keyword report while creating this Segment and click ‘Test’ you will see the keywords that are not being filtered out so you can make sure you’re only left with non-branded terms. Apply the Segment. 

Step 3: Determine the percent of your traffic that is non-branded.

Once you’ve applied the Segment, look at your keyword report and note the number of sessions. In the example below, there are 9. Therefore, roughly 20% (9 ÷ 44) of the organic traffic is non-branded. 

Step 4: Analyze.

1. Explore traffic from Organic Search (Acquisition > Channels > Organic Search).  For the metrics that are reported as sums (sessions, new users, goal conversions, etc.), simply multiply the metric total by the percent you calculated in the previous step to estimate the total for sessions from non-branded keywords. Using the figures in our example, of the 528 sessions from Organic Search, about 106 of them were from non-branded search terms (20% of 528= 106).

2. Apply the ‘Organic Traffic’ Segment (this is a pre-made Segment in Google Analytics, you do not have to create it) and explore any report available to you. This allows you see all session data for users coming to your site via organic searches. Again, multiply any metric data reported as a sum by the percent calculated in step 3 to get your non-branded keyword estimate.

Learn more about using Google Analytics and recieve a free dasboard in our article, "How to Measure Blog Performatnce Using Google Analytics Dashboards."

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