It has been nearly a year since Google updated the majority of their search traffic to go over a secure connection. For marketers, the downside of this was that they would lose the referrer data, which was relied on heavily for keyword research and optimization. Since that time, those using the AdWords program still got the referrer stats from their ads, but Google has just confirmed that this is now going away as well.
In a blog post on the Google Ads Developer page, it was said that AdWords campaigns will no longer be able to rely on this data, and instructed advertisers to seek other methods of gathering this data. The intent, according to Google, is to provide improved privacy and security to their users.
Most marketers who use paid search won’t be as heavily impacted as those who used SEO were a year ago. It is possible to target specific keywords through the AdWords tool, so knowing where the traffic is coming from is still possible, though somewhat more difficult.
Marketers who use either paid search, or organic search can still gather some useful data about how people are getting to their pages. The first option is to look at the AdWords search terms report (available for users of the AdWords program). This report will display all the terms that were searched for, and prompted the ad to be displayed. It will also show how many clicks were generated.
The next option, which works for anyone who gets traffic from Google, is the Webmaster Tools Search Queries report. This report provides users with information about how many times their site came up in the search results, and for what terms. It also shows how many people clicked on their specific site.
While these are more complex options than were available in the past, they do give most marketers the ability to find the information they need.