How To "Reverse Engineer" Missing Keywords from Google Analytics

Published on: Apr 10. 2012

About the author

Google Analytics YUNO

Image: Edited Google Analytics home screen and someone with a great sense of humor

You will need:

  • A website :)
  • Google Analytics Account
  • Google Webmaster Central Account
  • Spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel, Open Office or Google Docs)
  • Some data to work with

Setup Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Central

Go to Google Analytics and setup your account. Setup at least one goal or ecommerce tracking. You will need it for the last step. You will need to add some code into your website template. If you need help here are the useful links:

Go to Google Webmaster Central and set up your account. We suggest that you use the same email address as for the Google Analytics, so you will link accounts pretty fast. 

Now you have both, what you'll get is:

  • Google Analytics reports
  • Keyword reports from Google Analytics
  • Landing Pages, Queries and Geographical Summary from linked Google Webmaster Central account
  • Queries Report from Google Webmaster Central account

Export Google Analytics Data

This is a very simple process:

  1. Go to Google Analytics
  2. Go to Google Analytics > Traffic Sources > Searc > Organic
  3. Select the time frame - keep in mind you don't have keyword data for the past 2 days in Google Webmaster Central
  4. Export to CSV, TSV (don't use PDF, you will need CSV or TSV later)

Export Google Webmaster Central Data

This is also very simple:

  1. Go to Google Webmaster Central
  2. Click on your website profile
  3. Go to: Your Site on the Web > Search Queries
  4. Click "Download this table"

Combine and Clean, Reverse Engineer Conversion Data

Open your spreadsheet software and combine the tables. You can manually compare the click data for visible keywords.


  • Google Analytics shows "a" number of visits for keyword "webiny"
  • Google Webmaster Central shows "b" number of clicks for keyword "webiny"
  • "b" - "a" = "c"
  • "c" is the number of visits that are hidden from you
  • repeat the steps until you have Google Webmaster Central data (they are unavailable for keywords with less than 10 visits)
  • "x" = "c1" + "c2" + "c3" +...+"cn" where "x" is number of "retrieved" visits from hidden keywords
  • "y" = number of originally non visible keywords ("not provided" in Google Analytics)
  • "z" = number of unknown keywords after subtraction 
  • "z" = "y"-"x" 

You can do additional operations, such as getting percentage of "unknown" keywords after this operation. Example: "u" = "z" / "y"

What you can do next is a guesswork of how many conversions you got from unknown keywords. Example:

Keyword GA Visits GA Conv. Rate GA Conversions GWC Visits (subtracted) GWC Conv. Rate GWC Conversions
Keyword1 200 3% 6 100 3% 3
Keyword2  1000 2.5% 25 600 2.5% 15

This is just a guesswork, you can try to tweak out and remove these conversions from "not provided" keywords.

What's next

This blogpost is a work-around that I wanted to show. This is NOT a bulletproof process and I don't suggest you use it for your decisions. My initial idea was to help get better insights into what we are missing by trying to dig out the data. Maybe we'll have some tools or plugins in the future. Until than I hope that managers in Google will hear the voice of the community. Unless they are planning a paid version of Google Analytics.

This blog post is a followup of the post: Why Don't You Love Us Anymore Google?, be sure to check it out.

We'd like to hear your comments and experience, especially if you try this on a larger scale accounts. Thanks!


Lastest from our blog:

The Power of the Community

In the focus of recent feedback that I got, I think there is a need for me to justify some of the decisions we made while developing Webiny Framework.

Share & subscribe: