Thursday, April 16th, 2009...4:09 am

Google Starts (Secretly?) Sending Ranking Data in Referrer Strings

Jump to Comments

Patrick Altoft has voiced his guess about a change in Google referrer strings. It appears that Google now adds the ranking data to the referrer string (for those less technical, the Google SERPs page a visitor has arrived from to a site):

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=7&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.example.com%2Fmypage.htm&ei=0SjdSa-1N5O8M_qW8dQN&rct=j&q=flowers&usg=AFQjCNHJXSUh7Vw7oubPaO3tZOzz-F-u_w&sig2=X8uCFh6IoPtnwmvGMULQfw

Perhaps the cd=7 (click detail = 7th?) is the ranking and ct=res (click through = results?) is indicating that the click came from organic search rather than a universal search (news or video) result

Upon seeing this post, I rushed to check my own logs and have noticed a couple of similar referrer URLs. However, the ones I have seen in my logs had the traditional /search? element in them, not the new /url? promised by the Google Analytics blog this Tuesday.

What’s surprising about this whole story, however, is that the Google Analytics blog has been the only place so far to ever mention the referrer string changes – and there has been no official comment anywhere as to whether or not Patrick’s guess was correct and Google indeed includes the ranking data into these strings. Matt Cutts has commented vaguely on Patrick’s blog in the key of  “if you experiment some you will confirm your guess ” and tweetted advising “all SEOs” to read Patrick’s post. Well if this is true and all SEOs need to be aware of it why not do an official post or at least a post at Matt Cutt’s blog? Google’s public relations with SEOs amaze me.

Comments are closed.