Confirmed: Google AdWords Query Not Passing In Referer String

Apr 22, 2014 • 8:40 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google AdWords

Google AdWords Not ProvidedAs you know, Google AdWords went not provided, although there are ways to get the data and for the data to not be as secure as you want.

That being said, I decided to confirm and test this by setting up a test. I created an add that lead to my secure referer test page, where I can truly test if query data is being passed from HTTPS to HTTPS via referer.

The ad was set up to go to "

SSL AdWords Ad - Not Provided

Then when I clicked through, it technically should show the query data in the referer string but it did not, because that is how Google handles not provided, they strip it out, even from SSL to SSL (which is not the standard).

Here is what I saw:

SSL AdWords Ad - Not Provided Result

As you can see, there is no sign of the query in that string.

Again, most advertisers didn't use the referer data for getting to this data. They used the search keyword reports in AdWords or the API or tools that use the API. But it is nice to confirm it is really gone from the referer data.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Note: I am offline today and this post was pre-scheduled to be automatically posted. So if I am delayed in responding to issues or comments, I apologize in advance.

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04/22/2014 04:52 pm

Google has to do this since they are giving all your data to the government. This crap is an attempt to make it look like they give a sh!$ about your privacy. (When the government wanted libraries to hand over their records the librarians destroyed them. Total heroes that cared about privacy rights. Google... not so much.)


04/22/2014 06:39 pm

I can help with this problem , email me


04/23/2014 10:04 am

they want to make webmasters blind. Nice transparency, and anti-competition behavior of google.

Robert Fisher

04/23/2014 01:59 pm

Granted the "privacy" claim is a hard swallow. It would seem that for years SEO and SEM was about leaving behind the days of yellow pages and ads that were out in front of the world (also banner ads on web products). Finally, those of us doing marketing were able to fire a rifle because we could see what actually was responded to or not. Unfortunately, there is more money to be made from lead if you are selling 20 shotgun pellets than one rifle ball. Marketers on Google are being forced more and more to firing shotguns in hopes of hitting the right consumer.


04/23/2014 05:32 pm

Its made even more difficult when search terms are in polar contradiction in relative performance between keyword planner and google trends... it makes any kind of speculation a real gamble. Google's model of $0.25 per click just doesn't work for $25-50 average carts... forced me to find more profitable ad spends elsewhere.

Robert Fisher

04/23/2014 07:02 pm

I can understand how it would be difficult on a company with lower per cart average sales. this doesn't help. Best.

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