Life After Google’s Secure Paid Search Update

By Amanda Sides | Apr 11, 2014
More Articles by Amanda


Now that you are finally getting adjusted to the “not provided” secure search update for organic search, Google’s throwing another curveball and applying this to AdWords activity as well in the coming weeks. While the thought of losing search query data from Google advertising within Analytics is causing somewhat of a panic across the industry, there are ways to cope and still get that data.

Don't Panic About Paid Search Not Provided

Google announced on Wednesday (4/9):

“Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com.”

While this news is unfortunate, it is not disasterous. I love this article from Ginny Marvin that came out yesterday making some clarifications about the update and establishing a sense of calm that so many needed. It will definitely be interesting to see how this all actually plays out, but in the meantime, a few adjustments need to be made in the way you analyze your data so you can seamlessly move forward with as few disruptions as possible.

Accessing Search Query & Keyword Data

As Ginny clarified in her article, you will still be able to see your search query data within AdWords search terms reports. That much is not changing. You will also still be able to see keyword (and match type) data in Analytics, noting the difference between the keywords you advertise on and actual search queries, as long as you have linked those two accounts.

Impact on eCommerce Tracking

For those advertisers who have eCommerce tracking enabled in Google Analytics, this will cause some inconveniences since you won’t have access to that data at the search term/matched search query level anymore. As mentioned above, you should still be able to get eCommerce data at the keyword level, just not at the search query level.

Luckily, if you set up your conversion tracking the right way in AdWords, you’ll still be able to see your revenue data within the search terms report, at least as long as that report is available. Just be sure you have the Total Conversion Value column enabled and it will display right next to your search queries. That is valuable data that you’ll still have access to and be able to utilize for analysis purposes.

total conv value

So while these updates will definitely impact how you analyze your data, there are always work-arounds to compensate. It may not be what you’re used to, but there are ways to get by. It will be interesting to see how this actually rolls out and how it impacts things long term. For more information about how the update will or won’t affect your advertising practices, check out this post about 10 surprising facts about the secure paid search update.

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