How to Track SEO Keywords in Google Analytics 4

Tracking SEO keywords in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is essential for understanding the organic traffic to your website and optimizing your content. This guide will walkthrough how to find the keywords that are driving organic search traffic to your website by using GA4.

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Key Insights

  • There are two primary methods for getting keyword data inside of GA4.
  • Method one is the standard Google Search Console & GA4 integration.
  • This method gives you the standard GSC query reporting but does not map keywords to conversions.
  • Method two, is utilizing a 3rd party tool like Keyword Hero.
  • Keyword Hero allows you to map keywords to conversions inside of GA4.

The Challenge of Organic Keyword Data in Google Analytics

A few years ago, the organic keyword data in Google Analytics was removed. and 90%+ were changed to show up as “not provided”. This shift significantly complicated SEO efforts by making it more difficult to understand what search terms were leading users to convert on your website. As a result, tracking and analyzing the performance of SEO keywords in Google Analytics, became an uphill task.

But don’t let this deter you. There are methods to get around this challenge. We’ll break down how to reclaim and understand your organic search keywords inside of GA4.

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Setting Up Keyword Tracking in Google Analytics 4: Two Methods

In order to regain visibility of your SEO keywords in Google Analytics 4 (GA4), there are two key methods that we use with our clients. The first approach involves integrating Google Search Console (GSC) with your Google Analytics 4 account. This is a relatively straightforward process that provides you with insights regarding your organic search queries and which ones are driving clicks to your website. 

The second method entails using a third-party tool such as Keyword Hero. This tool helps to fill the gap left by Google’s decision to hide organic search terms, enabling you to identify the keywords that are driving not just traffic but also conversions to your website. 

Both methods have their own set of merits, so choosing between them will largely depend on your specific needs and resources. Let’s delve deeper into these methods and how to implement them.

Pros & Cons of Integrating Google Search Console with Google Analytics 4

The Pros

  • Direct Integration: As a product of Google, the integration with GA4 is seamless, ensuring that you get accurate and reliable data.
  • Cost-Efficient: This integration is free and only takes 1 minute to setup, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes.

The Cons

  • Limited Keyword Data: Google Search Console only provides data for the top 1,000 queries that drove traffic to your site over the last 16 months.
  • No Knew Insights Gained: The data is already inside of GSC so you don’t gain any new insights by integrating it with GA4. It just makes it quicker to access GSC reports if you are already inside of GA4.

Pros & Cons of Using Third-Party Tools Like Keyword Hero

The Pros

  • Comprehensive Keyword Data: Keyword Hero can reveal the hidden organic keywords that Google Analytics might not show, giving you a more comprehensive view of your keyword performance.
  • Mapping Keyword To Conversions: This is the number one reason to use a tool like Keyword Hero. Being able to see which keywords convert or drive revenue will allow you to make adjustments to your SEO strategy without having to guess where your conversions are coming from.

The Cons

  • Cost: Unlike the integration of Google Search Console and Google Analytics, Keyword Hero is a paid tool, which might not work for businesses with a limited budget.
  • Dependency on External Tools: As a third-party tool, there’s always a risk of service discontinuation or changes in the tool’s features or pricing. 

If budget allows, we recommend using a tool like Keyword Hero as it’s one of the few ways of being able to see which organic queries convert the best.

Integrating GSC with GA4 Step By Step

Follow the steps below to integrate your Google Search Console (GSC) with your Google Analytics 4 account, and start tracking your SEO keywords in GA4:

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account: Start by logging into your Google Analytics account. If you don’t have an account yet, it’s easy to create one.
  1. Select the property you want to link: Once you’re logged into your GA4 account, select the property you want to link to Google Search Console. If you have multiple properties, ensure you’re linking the correct one.
  1. Click on Admin: On the lower-left corner of the page, you’ll see the ‘Admin’ button, click on it.
  1. Navigate to Product Links: Once you’re in the Admin section, look for the section labeled ‘Product Links’ and click on ‘Search Console Links.’
  1. Add your GSC property: Click ‘Link’ and select your Google Search Console property from the drop-down list. 
  1. Add the Search Console Reports In Library: After navigating to the reports section, click on “Library”. You’ll See “Search Console” as a new report that you can add. Click the 3 dots and then click “Publish” to access the GSC reports inside of your GA4 reporting interface.
  1. Review data: After linking, it can take up to 48 hours for data to appear in your Google Analytics account. Once it’s populated, you can review your keyword data in the ‘Acquisition’ section under ‘Google Organic Search.’

Remember, integrating GSC with GA4 can provide you with the data that normally lives inside of GSC, but it doesn’t fully restore the organic search terms that convert or drive revenue. For a more comprehensive view, consider using a third-party tool like Keyword Hero in conjunction with GSC.

Setting Up Keyword Hero

Follow the steps below to set up Keyword Hero and start uncovering your hidden SEO keywords in Google Analytics 4.

  1. Create a Keyword Hero Account: The first step is to create an account on the Keyword Hero website. Click on the “Get Started” button and provide the necessary details to create your account.
  1. Connect Your Google Analytics Account: Once your account is created, you’ll be prompted to connect your Google Analytics account. Click on “Connect” and follow the on-screen instructions to connect your GA4 to Keyword Hero.
  1. Select Your Website: Within your Google Analytics account, select the website for which you want to track SEO keywords. 
  1. Configure the Data Source: Keyword Hero requires information from Google Search Console. Choose the correct Search Console property that matches with your website.
  1. Choose Your Plan: Based on your requirements and budget, select an appropriate plan. Keyword Hero offers a range of plans, including a free option with limited features.
  1. Complete the Setup: Click “Complete Setup”. Keyword Hero will then begin processing your data. It might take some time for Keyword Hero to populate your hidden keywords.
  1. Access Your Data on GA4: Once the data processing is done, you can access your detailed keyword data directly in your GA4 account. There will be a new GA4 property created where all your keyword data will be displayed.

Visualizing SEO Keyword Data in Looker Studio

Looker Studio, previously known as Google Data Studio, is a powerful data visualization tool that turns your data into informative and easy-to-understand dashboards and reports. It’s a highly customizable platform that allows you to analyze your SEO keywords data in GA4 in a visually compelling and interactive manner. This tool is especially useful for digital marketers who want insights at a glance or if you need to make client SEO reports.

This is our preferred method for doing keyword reporting and analysis. I typically use GA4 and GSC to store my data but actually visualize and report on that data inside of Looker Studio. The flexibility and customization for data visualization is much better inside of Looker Studio than Ga4 directly.

Benefits of Using Looker Studio for Data Visualization

Looker Studio offers multiple benefits for data visualization of your SEO keywords in GA4. With Looker Studio, you can easily analyze and explore your SEO keyword data, gaining valuable insights for optimizing your website and improving your search engine rankings.

Interactive Dashboards

Firstly, it offers interactive dashboards where you can manipulate data in real-time, drill down for more detailed insights, and customize your view to focus on the most relevant data. This level of interactivity enhances your understanding and allows for deeper analysis. 

Automated Report Generation

Secondly, Looker Studio offers automated report generation, saving you valuable time and ensuring consistency in your reporting. Reports can be scheduled to run at specific times and be automatically sent to relevant stakeholders, thereby streamlining your SEO reporting process.

Multiple Data Sources

Thirdly, Looker Studio supports integration with multiple data sources, including GA4 and Google Search Console. This feature allows you to combine various data types for a more comprehensive analysis. 

Customizable Visualizations

Lastly, Looker Studio’s customizable visualizations enable you to present your data in a way that’s most meaningful to your business. From bar charts to pie charts, trend lines to heat maps, you can choose the most appropriate visual representation for your SEO keywords data, making it easier to interpret and act on. 

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How To Use Looker Studio and GA4 for Keyword Tracking

Looker Studio provides a dynamic interface to visualize your SEO keywords data in Google Analytics 4 and derive meaningful insights. Here’s how you can use Looker Studio with your GA4 Keywords data:

Connect Your GA4 Account

To begin, you’ll need to connect your GA4 account to Looker. In the Looker dashboard, navigate to ‘Connections’ and select ‘Add Connection.’ Choose Google Analytics 4 from the options and provide the necessary credentials to establish the connection.

Create a New Chart

Once your GA4 account is connected, you can create a new chart or visualization. Click on “add a chart” in the navigation and select your visualization type.

Choose Your Data Source: On the right sidebar make sure you have the correct data source selected.

Build Your Visualization

Looker Studio provides multiple visualization options. You can choose the one that best suits your data. For example, you can use a table to display the raw data, a time series chart for keyword position trends, or a bar chart to illustrate the proportion of clicks per keyword.

Save and Share 

After arranging and styling your visualization, you can save it for future reference or share it with your team.

Visualizing your SEO keywords data can help you better understand the performance of your keywords, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to improve your SEO strategy. Looker Studio provides an intuitive and powerful interface for creating such visualizations.

We recommend starting with a Looker Studio template so you don’t need to build your keyword reports and visualizations from scratch each time.

Optimize Your SEO Strategy with GA4 Keywords

Using Google Analytics 4 and tools like Keyword Hero and Looker Studio, you can elevate your SEO strategy by accessing, analyzing, and visualizing your SEO keywords data. These insights are invaluable in identifying trends, understanding keyword performance, and making strategic decisions that can significantly improve your website’s search engine ranking. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to harness the power of GA4 keywords for your SEO strategy. 

By taking advantage of these tools and continually refining your approach based on your keyword analysis, you can ensure your website is easily discoverable by your target audience. Start tracking and visualizing your GA4 keywords today for a more data-driven and successful SEO strategy.

john reinesch

About The Author

John has spent close to a decade working with marketing agencies in various roles and capacities. Over that time he developed a passion for building systems and processes that allow agencies to improve their service offerings and deliver their service more efficiently.