Google Adds Ranking Data to Referrer String

Google has been rolling out changes to the way their referrer strings are structured. They are moving from a simple URL that shows the search query to a more complex one with some extra information that may be valuable.

Starting this week, you may start seeing a new referring URL format for visitors coming from Google search result pages. Up to now, the usual referrer for clicks on search results for the term “flowers”, for example, would be something like this:

Now you will start seeing some referrer strings that look like this:

Patrick Altoft of BlogStorm has noticed an interesting addition to the string. He thinks that the cd=7 part stands for “click detail 7,” and is the ranking for your page. So if someone clicked through from Google to your site, your analytics software could collect the referrer string, and determine not just what the user searched for when they found your site, but what the page ranked!

This is valuable information for Search Engine Optimization, and makers of traffic statistics software, certainly.

  • Blaine Moore

    I'm not seeing a cd=# in my results, but I am seeing a start=# that seems to also correspond to the ranking position and falls in a similar place in the querystring…

    • redwall_hp

      It seems that, so far, the new referrer string is only used when a user is logged in. Could that be why?