After word had been swirling the change was coming, yesterday Google announced it is expanding secure search to cover clicks on paid ads. The move means Google will treat the search query referrer data in ad clicks via secure search the same way they have been for all organic clicks since last year. The actual words people use in their searches will no longer be passed through the URL referrer string after a user clicks on a paid search ad from Google.
Many experts agree, though, that the change will not be as cart-rocking for paid search practitioners and software providers as it was for SEOs when the bulk of organic keyword data began showing as “not provided” in analytics. Paid search marketers will lose valuable insights when paid search “not provided” hits analytics because analytics offers metrics, dimensions and custom reporting options that are not available (now, at least) in AdWords for search query data. However, their search query data will continue to be available in AdWords and via the AdWords API.
Additionally, the big paid search management platforms are running smoothly through this change because they don’t rely on the search query referrer for their bidding, optimization and analytics functionality.
Jeremy Hull, director of bought media at global paid search agency iProspect, said by phone yesterday, that while the change sounded panic-inducing when they were first told by Google about it, in reality, the move won’t have a significant impact on the work that most search marketers do or the platforms many of them rely on. Co-founder and chief marketing scientist of digital marketing firm RKG, George Michie called it “an annoyance” but “not a major problem”.
For more reactions on the change and specific implications, check out The Aftermath: Clarifications & Expert Reactions To Google’s Move To Secure Paid Search Queries on our sister site Search Engine Land.