Google to Secure Search for Ad Clicks

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Recent Changes in Google Search

Last week, Google announced that they are expending secure search to clicks on paid ads, switching all searches to encrypted searches. Until recently,  AdWords advertisers have gotten full access to keyword data, whether it’s through Google itself or through one of the third-party tools using the API for this data. Going forward expect even paid search keyword data will be blocked with “Not Provided”


What Does this Change Mean?

This change means no more keyword data will be passed to site owners.  This shift eliminates a site’s ability to track users by their keyword searches and makes it more difficult for organic search marketers to identify which keywords are driving traffic to their website. Specifically, the search query a user typed in before clicking on an ad will get passed through with Google redirect to the destination URL without passing the data on to analytics or other software other than AdWords.

Why Did Google Do This?

In an announcement posted by Paul Feng, Product Management Director of AdWords at Google, this change has a lot to do with security;

We’ve long worked to keep your searches on Google secure. We provided SSL encryption for signed-in searches in 2011 and have rolled that out to searches from the omnibox in the Chrome browser. 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
Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimize and improve their campaigns and landing pages. For example, you can access detailed information in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.

The move is also aimed at homogenizing search query referrer data between ad clicks and organic clicks. When Google encrypted search terms for organic searches last year, it opened up claims of hypocrisy that advertisers continued to receive the terms while others didn’t. By applying secure search across the board, Google effectively closed the claims of hypocrisy regarding organic and paid search terms.

How Does this Affect Users?

Advertisers will still have access to their paid search query data, using the search terms report within Google AdWords dashboard. Advertisers who don’t use a third party management tool may not notice a difference either, except for possibly needing to access AdWord tags.
In effect, Google will remove the referral keyword string to provide secure search and to prevent keywords from showing up in the website logs; however, all the data will continue to be stored within the AdWords dashboard and is still accessible to advertisers.

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