I just noticed Google “going all Ajax” in their search results.

Whatever they are doing, the net effect is that NO keyword data will be available in third party analytics tools. Indeed… it probably won’t appear in GA either if GA is genuinely using Javascript to do its tracking.

The Old Way

The New Way

The Effect

[EDITOR NOTE…. THAT’S ME… IT’S A PERSONAL BLOG: Beyond the next chart this post has been updated Thursday Morning. Comments prior to that may refer to previous (incorrect) interpretations.]

I originally suspected that they had been testing this for  few weeks, judging by the search term on brand drop in PIWIK analytics integrations:

But then that goes to show what happens when you write up a blog post in a rush. The chart above was not filtered to show Google traffic only and whilst that drop looks interesting, when I DID look at the traffic properly filtered, Google seems to still be happily tracking at least some of the brand keyword at the same level at the moment:

So either it was early checking, or something else was happening to still let my analytics track, because usually anything after a hashbang would get lost, So next I did a search for a tool/script which checks the referrer URL when you land on the page. I found one on stardrifter.org so did THIS search to get stardrifter in the hashbanged results:

Clicking on that referrer test should show the referrer URL in the URL bar at the top, yes? But infact Google is redirecting and showing a different (more expected and normal) referral URL – as can be seen when I click on the link:

So… the Hashbang has gone… but then again, so have the keywords. Just a parameter “&q=” with no content. I tried to log out and do a similar test and did not generate an instance where the keyword data was parsed. Maybe someone else can.

Categories: Commentary

Dixon Jones

An award-winning Search and Internet Marketer. Search Personality of the year Lifetime achievement award Outstanding technology individual of the year International public speaker for 20 years in the field of SEO and Internet Marketing, including: Pubcon; Search Engine Strategies (SMX); Brighton SEO; Ungagged; Search Leeds; State of Search; RIMC and many more.


Dean Cruddace · 3rd July 2013 at 1:11 pm

But you too can have your data back for £90k?

The inevitable looms closer.

Dean Cruddace · 3rd July 2013 at 1:14 pm

Not hashbanging while signed out at the moment (.co.uk)

    admin · 3rd July 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Ah – well THAT would be interesting… if the hashbang was only when signed in, but I am seeing .co.uk hashbangs signed out on Firefox.

AmirLearner · 3rd July 2013 at 2:12 pm

Have you looked at traffic to your brand page(s)?

Greg · 3rd July 2013 at 3:24 pm

Now Dixon,

You’re showing an example from Google.com and Google.co.uk.

When I do a search in .com, I still see the question mark. It looks to be an international thing as I checked a few other international indices and they are all using the #.

Interesting find though. I wonder if they will roll it to .com soon.

Thanks for the post.


    admin · 3rd July 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Yes – I needed to change the environment to see the “old” version to grab a screenshot. However – I have now been able to recreate on Google.com.

sracano · 3rd July 2013 at 3:31 pm

Just checked a UK site with the # in the Google Search page, and the data is coming through in Google Analytics with the keyword data.

Must just be PIWIK that is losing the keyword data from this change.

    admin · 3rd July 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Actually – I am not 100% sure that the timeline corresponds. It is the Hashbang that I was trying to highlight as significant – but I would assume that a hashbang would scupper most third party tracking.

HitProf · 18th July 2013 at 12:52 am

I checked in google.nl

I did get a # (not a hashbang! – just a hash) and got a perfect &q=check%20url%20stardrifter back from stardrifter. No hash in the referer though.

Hm – did you delete your cookies after signing out?


    admin · 28th September 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Astrid,
    I know this is ages later and we all wen https this week. Now I am in Texas and it isn’t happening at the moment.

Alexander Zacharov · 9th April 2015 at 12:48 am

thanks for the info, google change their code constantly and I really do not know if i am doing the right thing but for now I know that i am on the right track

Plan A Link · 24th July 2015 at 8:22 pm

Wow, very interesting to see how an update can actually ruin a blog like that. Going to book mark this for my customers to see what the actual affect is when a new google update gets rolled out!

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