Montag, 19. August 2013

Google Referrer Query Strings Debunked Part 1

Every breath you take
every move you make…
-- Sting, 1983 Full Lyrics
If google would be a person, you could think about it's behaviour as either romantic or compulsory. As you might know, google is tracking every click and every impression of its search results. When you click on a link in the search results, you don't get redirected to that page right away, you're taken another hop over http://www.google.com.com/url?[tracking arguments here]. If you take a look at the logs of your webserver, you'll probably notice, that a great deal of your traffic got referred from such an URL.

To understand the way traffic is flowing to websites, it is common practice to analyse these referrer URLs to get as much information as possible about what caused the clicks. Recently, google began to eliminate the q parameter from this URL. this is the reason, why in google analytics a great portion of keywords are showing up as "(not provided)". In effect, web masters do no longer know, which keywords caused the clicks. Supposedly to protect the users privacy, which is a little bit of a stretch considering, that advertisers (allegedly) still get this information. Some even say, that this information will be available again in the future via the premium version of Google Analytics (GA).

The absence of the q parameter has sparked some interest in the remaining parameters, because they might still provide intelligence to web masters.

In mid 2012 Tim Minor wrote a Blog Post about the different parameters but left many questions unanswered. In late 2012 a member of the spanish SEO community Blogged about the ved parameter and made some progress in decoding it.

The latter post sparked my interest. So I decided to take a closer look at the ved parameter.

In this article series, I'll guide you through the process of finding the encoding of the ved query parameter. I'll show, how you can implement a decoder for this parameter (including code snippets) and give you insight about what information you can obtain by doing so.

To complement this article I've setup an Online Demo and a Repository on GitHub.

Next

Read which variants of the ved parameter are there and how to decode it.

Continue to part 2

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