An intriguing keynote with Google at SMX West this year ignited into a flurry of speculation this week as marketers discussed whether Google would stop providing PPC keyword data, just as it stopped providing organic keyword data beginning in October 2011.

This evening, Google officially announced changes to the way they will provide keyword data to website owners and pay-per-click advertisers. A user’s search query is no longer available to any third-party call analytics or web analytics provider, including CallRail. Here’s the core change:

Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on

Good News: AdWords Keyword Data Is Still Available

However, you’ll need to make a few simple changes to your AdWords account so your PPC keyword data is passed to CallRail.

Google’s recommended Best Practice is now to send the keyword data using the ValueClick parameters.

We suggest using the keyword that generated the ad click, rather than the query. The keyword and match type can be passed to your web server by using a ValueTrack parameter in your destination URLs.

Better News: Keyword Data Will Be More Accurate and More Reliable

In the past, CallRail has detected the user’s actual search term.  Often, the user’s search query varied from the keyword that you bid on in your AdWords account, due to Google’s Phrase Match, Broad Match, and Expanded Broad Match.  By passing the keyword using the ValueTrack parameter, you’ll see the exact query that you’re bidding on, which will make it easier to see exactly which of your ads are driving phone calls.

How Do I Set It Up?

To receive Google’s ValueTrack data, you’ll have to add one simple parameter to your Google AdWords landing page URLs:


For example, if your website is, and your landing page is, you would change your landing page to be “{keyword}“.  (Note that you literally put {keyword} in the URL — Google will automatically substitute it with the actual keyword when sending a visitor to your website.) -> becomes{keyword}

Once you update your landing page URLs in AdWords, CallRail will automatically detect the new data and display the keywords in your dashboard.

Conversion reporting to Google Analytics and Google AdWords is unaffected by this new change and will continue to work as normal.

If you need assistance making these changes to your AdWords account, please reach out to our support team at We will be more than happy to assist you!

What’s the Opportunity in the Long Term?

We’re excited by the information we can unlock about your callers through the ValueTrack data.  In the coming weeks, we’re going to to roll out changes that will allow you to analyze even more dimensions using data that can be provided by ValueTrack, such as Match Type, Ad Position, Display Ad Creative, Display Placements, and Device Type.

As always, we take pride in bringing you powerful call analytics software that helps you make smarter decisions about your marketing, and we’re working continuously to deliver on that promise.

  • Thanks for the update Andy! Now I just have 10,000 landing pages to update. hehe 🙂

    • Andy Powell

      Hopefully the Google Adwords Editor will make it easy for you! I just updated our own account and it was painless.

  • Thanks for the update guys! Great to see a provider that’s on top of things. We’ll implement changes for our clients right away.

  • Mike Belasco

    nice quick update, thanks andy and team!

    • Thanks Mike! The whole team has been hustling to make this transition as smooth as possible.

      Once the rumors got out, it took Google less than 24 hours to release an official announcement and implement the changes! Fortunately, CallRail could already capture keywords in landing page parameters, so we had to document it, make it official, and help our clients navigate the transition.

  • Jerry

    Will updating the destination url cause loss of ad history?

    • Kevin Mann

      Yes, updating an ads landing page URL will split up the historical data for that ad. Unfortunately there is no workaround to keep the historical data intact.

      The good news is, it will not have a significant affect on your quality score (more information available at ). Google Adwords links the new ad to your old ad, and trusts it similarly to how it trusts your old ad.

  • Kevin Mann

    You will add “&keyword={keyword}” to the end of the existing string, rather than replacing the current “_bk” parameter. The URL in your example will become{creative}&_bk={keyword}&_bm={matchType}&keyword={keyword}

    • Kevin Mann

      We’ve updated CallRail to automatically capture keywords in the “_bk” parameter. If you are already sending keyword data using the “_bk” parameter, you do not need to append “&keyword={keyword}”.

      Anyone else that is already sending keyword data using a different parameter than “keyword” or “_bk” should follow the instructions in my above comment to append “&keyword={keyword}”.

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  • Iqbal

    Hi there,

    Look of the landing page changed and it’s not showing any images when i changed the landing page urls for my website.

    I just added “?keyword={keyword}” end of my landing pages.


  • Austin Lance Butler

    Hey Andy! Thanks for the post. I was up to date on the Google Post, but didn’t find this exact post till I started searching after the keyword data went missing. Thanks for the simple explanation and work around.

  • Nick Thomas

    Any suggestions on how to do this in WordPress? Adding a suffix to the url from the page level doesn’t seem to work (it rewrites it again when you save/publish), neither does setting a custom permalink setting.

    • You’ll need to add the URL parameters to your landing page URL inside of AdWords, not to the page URL inside the WordPress admin dashboard.

  • Andy Black

    Thanks for the article. What do we do for Bing paid ads?

  • Google just changed Adwords to “Upgraded URL’s” I’ve already made the switch. Any idea how this affects Our Keyword parameters. Granted I am brand new to Call Rail and just setup Analytics linking and Adwords etc. I have yet to implement the “?keyword={keyword}” parameters.

    Keyword data will be very important to me. Any idea how the changes affect implementation of this to ensure that I will get keyword data?