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Google Has Stopped Sharing Search Query Data For PPC Ads

Published 11 Apr 2014 by Frederic Abrard, CANDDi
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Find out about how Google has stopped sharing search query data for PPC ads and what that means for your business.


Google has stopped sharing
search query data for PPC ads

7 months after encrypting all organic search queries read our previous blog post, Google announced, yesterday, they were rolling out encryption to paid search queries.

In their words “Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on”.

Until now Google was sharing the search query that triggered the ad in the URL through what we call the “referer”. This search query was made available to any third party analytics tool such as Google Analytics.

Companies could use the search query in many different ways, for example to run reports, trigger automated landing page customisation, send automated emails or, in the case of CANDDi show you what a specific prospect searched for before visiting your website.

With this change Google will not pass the search query information to any 3rd party tool anymore, even Google Analytics.

Can I still see this data somewhere?

As an Adwords user you can be reassured, Google claim you will still be able access this data with performance indicator in the Adwords Search terms report report. You can keep running reports to identify keywords you should add to your keyword list or put as negative keyword to avoid triggering an ad (note: looking at our adwords account today the search term reports does not provide any details - it might just be a short term issue).

You will also be able to see up to 2000 search queries per day that triggered a visit to your website using the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.

We can give you the following recommendations:

  • 1) If it’s important to you to capture the keyword in a 3rd party analytics tool, such as CANDDi, we recommend using Google’s ValueTrack parameter to force Adwords to pass the keyword that triggered the ad. This requires some changes in your Adwords account, mainly updating the destination URLs with some extra parameter such as in the example below:{keyword}

    You can read the detailed procedure on Google’s Value Track support page. Note that this will not pass the exact search query, but the Adwords keyword that triggered the ad.

  • 2) If not done yet we strongly recommend you to activate the Adwords Conversion Tracking so you can measure which keywords led to a conversion (eg. an enquiry or a sale).

  • 3) If you are using Google Analytics, then you should link it to your Adwords account in order to populate information from Adwords into your Google Analytics interface.

In conclusion this move was much anticipated as Google had this ironic position of hiding the search query for organic search but providing it for paid search. Some companies will have to adapt their processes to use the data available, but we believe the impact will be very limited. CANDDi will keep tracking individual visitors to your website and show you what they have looked at, helping you with new or returning prospect identification and qualification. Should you put in place the ValueTrack parameter as suggested in this post, we will capture and display the keyword that triggered the Adwords ad a specific visitor clicked to visit your website.

Frederic Abrard

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