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No search strings in log - whose fault is it?

Many Google referers contain no search string



12:08 am on Oct 9, 2013 (gmt 0)


in my website access log there are lots of strings of the following kind:

This is totally useless information from a search engine, since on the face of it, "q=" means to me "no search string".

What is happening here? Is Google cutting out the search string and inserting the URL instead (which is useless: we know our own URL)? Or do all those users already know the URL and are just pasting the URL into Google's search field becuse their default first page when opening the browser is Google, and then Google just redirects them as shown?

This kind of string appears quite often (I'd say in about 90% of all referers mentioning a Google search engine), and it also seems to be a fairly recent development. (Or is it? I likely didn't pay attention when it first happened, because it didn't happen often.)

Would appreciate some insight about this odd problem. TIA!


12:43 am on Oct 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

PS: I should mention that I have looked at these threads that seem related:


I don't understand much of what has been discussed in those threads, but I can add here that my site does not use HTTPS and that the requests come from regular users, most of whom have received a mail with the URL to my site in the body of the text. (In case this is useful information for someone, none of the addresses I sent that mail to were on Gmail or Googlemail.)

My site is not well known and does not at all appear at the top of the search result list in Google - on the contrary, even when searching with a keyword combination unique to my site Google regularly presents various meta-data sites refering to my site before it gives users the link to my own site (Duck, Yahoo, Bing, etc. don't do that).


12:44 am on Oct 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

It's the new normal. Google is now an obsessive compulsive hoarder. We have a 3 page discussion in progress here:


1:13 am on Oct 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

my site does not use HTTPS

It's got nothing to do with your own protocol; it applies to the user's google connection. There are two referer patterns. One is the kind you've quoted, where you're told that you came in at #3 but not what it was #3 for.* The other is

and that's all

* I had the idea they only do this if you're on the front page, but I recently saw one in the mid two digits. So either I was mistaken all along, or they're recently changed.


4:18 am on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

SevenCubed and lucy24 - many thanks for the comments!

If I understand this correctly, after reading various related threads (some a second time), it is a Google thing about which I can't do anything.

Since with fitting search terms the site in question comes up nicely in Duck, Bing, and Yahoo (not only that, but much better: those scraper sites don't show up at all there), I'll leave Google to its own game.

Metatags like "description" and "keywords" are therefore also out of the window for good now - had been hanging on them just for Google's sake, basically, and all they apparently do is make life easier for scrapers who get featured on Google. ;-)

PS: what does "organic" mean in this context?


7:18 am on Oct 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

Metatags like "description" and "keywords" are therefore also out of the window for good now

Throw out the "keywords" for sure. By now I doubt that any search engine sees them as anything but attempted spam.

Keep the description. Some search engines, including g###, may choose to display this text if it's a close match for the search terms. Note however that the meta description itself is not indexed-- at least not in g###. So write a nice description for humans.

wmt --definitely bing and google, don't remember yandex-- make a fuss about the meta description. Too long, too short, missing etc. They have nothing to say about meta keywords.


2:25 am on Oct 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the added comments, lucy24 - will keep this distinction in mind.

In the present case, with the title and the pages themselves saying what is important, there is no need for additional description, it seems. :)

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