Gclid: How to Find and Please Your URL’s G Spot (Psst, the Clid is Next to It)

Jen Saunders
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The gclid (Global Click Identifier) is a parameter Google applies to destination URLs when auto-tagging in AdWords is switched on allowing information to pass between it and Google Analytics. Some people seem to have a problem finding it. They poke and prod the URL looking, but come up feeling like a colossal failure. There is a secret to finding the clid and the G spot that resides next to it. First, be aware they belong together and work best when both are stimulated by the hand of data that flicks between AdWords and Analytics. Second, you won’t find it on your AdWords text advert’s destination URLs, because it is a redirect. Instead, you will find it in your Web server’s log files. Any savvy global paid media companies will know all about the gclid, so if you need professional help with your paid search efforts, find someone who knows the gclid intimately. 

Gclid sends data from AdWords to Analytics

Your Gclid Tells You Who Came

Running a successful AdWords campaign relies on the PPC expert to know where the traffic came from. Google Analytics has a “Traffic Sources” tool allowing one to segment campaigns according to ad text and various other accouterments, thanks to the little yet mighty gclid–it just shoots it out. Now Google can track users after they have clicked on your advert, and report the findings.

Gclid is in your url


So How do I Please the Gclid?

First, you have to enable your auto-tagging. Simply sign in to your Google Ads account. Don’t rush things, just do it in a way that feels natural. Next you will click the gear icon and choose the Account Settings option. Don’t get too carried away at this stage because you need to make sure you are on the Preferences tab. Then, and only then, can you click Edit within the Tracking portion. You are almost home free by now. Enable the Auto-Tagging click box, and then save those changes. Bada bing bada boom you did it!

Gclid is complex

How Complex is the Gclid?

Let’s face it, the gclid is pretty complex and has baffled many since it came into existence. First, it is enshrined in Protocol Buffers–Google’s neutral language platform for structured data continuation. It is rather difficult for most to understand because it is in binary format and not readable by humans, it uses a numeric ID instead of field names, and it doesn’t store data types but instead a wire type which is a minimal puddle of information required to divide the two. Honestly, if just looks weird and it isn’t straight-forward.

gclid is hard

Should Advertisers Pay Attention to the Gclid?

The gclid has three parameters; one is a Unix time-stamp, and the other two are values that seem random and are a mystery. Advertisers can’t even begin to comprehend two of the parameters, but as far as the time-stamp goes one could use it to tell web visitors who actually clicked on your ad versus those who used a bookmark of an indexed Google link with the gclid still intact. However, this information is easily available in your Analytics controls, so the gclid is pretty useless in this sense and just sort of sits there getting no attention.

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