Omniture & New Google Referrer String: Position Report, New Patch

The past couple of weeks have seen some announcements from Omniture Industry Insights blog that are of interest and importance to SiteCatalyst users.  These items relate to the new referrer string that Google is rolling out, which carries richer information about the search conducted.  The announcement back in April on the Google Analytics Blog of the upcoming change showed the following example of the new referrer string:


Two things to note:

1. Introduction of a new parameter, ‘cd=7‘, in this case identifying that the site was in the 7th position on the page for the search term ‘flowers’.

2. Due to the extra detail in the query string, the ‘q=flowers’ that identifies the search term appears much later in the referrer string than in the past.

Correspondingly, there are 2 implications for SiteCatalyst:

1. On May 8, Jordan LeBaron explained how users can take advantage of SiteCatalyst’s new ability to track organic keyword rankings in Google for your site.  He provides a screenshot of the report, although this is an early iteration and Omniture is “actively testing new advanced solutions to make this data more actionable…”  There is no extra cost for this reporting, but you will need to talk to your account manager to get it set up.

2. On a separate but related topic, Ben Gaines blogged on May 15 about a patch that Omniture is recommending SiteCatalyst users apply to their Javascript code file in order to avoid potential loss of the search query term caused by the new Google referrer string.  Due to the length of the new referrer string, sites with long URLs may find that the query term in the referrer string ends up past SiteCatalyst’s 255 character limit, thus preventing SiteCatalyst from identifying the search term that visitor has used.  Result: search term won’t show up in the Search Terms – Natural report under Traffic Sources.  The patch ensures that the search term is captured from the query string.  There are a few steps involved, but Ben provides what looks like thorough instructions.

As Ben points out, there is no need for SiteCatalyst users to panic, as this new referrer string is being introduced gradually by Google (currently being used on an estimated 10% of searches) and in any case most sites shouldn’t have a problem even without the patch.  Also, sites that employ a version of the SiteCatalyst code that is H.20.2 or later won’t need the patch, as this functionality to deal with the new Google referrer is built in.  Good excuse to upgrade your SiteCatalyst code!