Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from

Message Too Old, No Replies

A Fix for Google, How to Implement Referral Privacy Correctly



11:56 am on Oct 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I can see the reasons behind not sending referral data that includes the query; there are many places in between Google and the intended website that could harvest that data.

I'm throwing down a challenge to Google. As I would assume that Google are OK for the visited site to have access to the query string (but not those inbetween) I suggest this (and I know that people might not like WMT, but if Google send you traffic you might have to do this to "play ball"):

Implement a system which uses encryption of the query string, with site owners given access to the decryption key (through WMT) that could be used with code available from Google - this key could also be shared with analytics programs to decode the querystring.

This means only Google and the target site can read the querystring, so features on sites that rely on the query being there will be still work (with some updates to the code).

If Google think that giving the querystring to the target website is a problem then I would have to disagree with them entirely - they have the ability to add (if it's not already there) a line or two to their T&C's to allow them to do this without fear of privacy authorities. Passing the querystring is helpful for the consumer in many cases.

Will Google do this?


9:23 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator anallawalla is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

To all here, Why should google provide this data to webmasters?

I agree with leosghost. Google scrapes, er, "organises" our content to power its various search products. We don't mind it most of the time because this brings visitors for many of us (who are in the higher rankings). Yes, some of us had to perform SEO but there are many who haven't, but are lucky to be in a non-competitive niche.

Google doesn't owe us anything, but there has to be some tipping point where this becomes one-sided. AdWords advertisers have a stronger bargaining chip, so they continue to get referrer data, at least for now. When Google gets really serious about privacy, even that will stop, but not in our lifetime.

Hence, I commend inbound for offering a practical solution to the purported privacy concern.

As wheel points out, the ads now have a very light background of #FFF8E7 which is pretty close to white and it's hard to see the second and third ads (as ads) because they don't have "Ads" next to them. The background colours used to include #FFF9DD and #FFF8DD but they've trialled this #FFF8E7 for at least a year.

(as an aside, that colour is "Cosmic Latte" [en.wikipedia.org...] - only a Googler would think it cool to pick it for AdWords.)


10:34 pm on Oct 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Google doesn't owe us anything


Without our websites Google would have nothing to index, they wouldn't exist.

Google literally stole our content without asking in the beginning, there was never an OPT-IN, Google was and still is the biggest scraper, copyright infringer with 'cache' display and full page screen shots, so on and so forth.

Then, adding insult to injury, they constantly make changes to keep the customer face time on Google and AdWords, not letting the customer get to the actual websites being indexed.

They are not your friend.

The least they owe us is the damn referral data for letting them continue to scrape and violate copyright.


3:02 pm on Oct 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

For those who are baffled by 'not provided' and really want to know the SEO keywords... check out this blog post talking about how you can use 'custom variables' to use Google Analytics (GA) as a Rank Tracker.


see some of you at Pubcon vegas?


[edited by: tedster at 4:10 pm (utc) on Oct 24, 2011]
[edit reason] Linked directly to the article [/edit]


6:06 am on Oct 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

2 Solutions (1 simple, 1 radical)

1. When a users Arrives from Google SSL with no keyword data provided, pop up a small list of Common Search Terms "maybe with a additional in-site search box", Ask them what they were looking for, or give them the option to just close the box.

"Because you arrived from Google SSL, To Better Help You , We would like to know What Brought you Here"
Search Term 1
Search Term 2
Search Term 3
|Search More|
|X| Don't Want to Answer, Close |X|

Might piss some user off, but if it become wide spread users might not mind it as much. Also let user know why, maybe they will disable SSL themselves.

2 (Radical). Donate some free Advertising to FireFox + BING.

Create some Banners and Recommend visitor use BING instead of Google. Hell even provide Download link to Firefox + BING, or the BING Tool Bar.

Tell visitor from Google: "This Site is better when using FireFox + BING"

I can Create some creative in 728x90, 300x250, 468x90, 336x280 and even some pop-up and pop-unders.

Create a "No Google Keyword Detection Script"

When SSL No keyword visitors lands, Pop-up Ads and show ads for BING + Firefox.

If enough webmaster started promoting Google Alternative it might wake Google up!


9:29 pm on Nov 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Google said it's about 9% and I recently saw a private, independent study that came up with just over 10%. Not all that small.

Well, I was not a believer but now I am. It started appearing the week of October 16th at about 2%, stayed around that until this past week where it jumped up to almost 11%.

It has for me at least, moved beyond being just a minor nuisance.


9:22 pm on Nov 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

It started appearing the week of October 16th at about 2%, stayed around that until this past week where it jumped up to almost 11%.
I wrote a small shell script that looks at Google referrals, finds those with and without keyword data and comes up with the no-referral percentage: the Google referrals script [1-script.com]
I ran it on a few of my sites and I see quite a bit of difference in the percentages of visits without referrals. They fluctuate anywhere between 8.5% to 16%.

Interestingly, sites that you would call business-oriented tended to have higher number of no-keyword referrals than what you might call hobby-oriented. Not sure what to make of it. Never thought people use Google accounts more heavily for business than pleasure. I actually thought it's the other way around. Maybe it's better to add that +1 button to my business sites...

Anyhow, just wanted to add a data point to the discussion.
This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36

Featured Threads

Hot Threads This Week

Hot Threads This Month