What Is The GCLID?

gclid cursor pic
Neil Andrew

Neil Andrew

January 22nd, 2019

Neil is Scottish so when he's not writing for PPC Protect he's eating haggis and watching Braveheart.

If you’ve been browsing through your analytics looking at your website’s paid search, then it’s only a matter of time before you run into a GCLID.

Found added onto the end of a URL, this strange parameter can often cause alarm once first seen. What is this GCLID and why is it on my website? Have I been hacked? Is this breaking my ads? What does it mean?

If you’re looking for answers about the GCLID and what it does, then we’ve got them.

To get things started, you’re probably wondering what the GCLID stands for in the first place. Well, we’ve got you covered. Once you understand what it stands for, everything will start to make sense!

What The GCLID Stands For

The GCLID simply stands for Google Click Identifier (not that glamorous, we know!) and follows the same format as many other PPC networks. Facebook also have their own click identifier which is very similar to Google’s. Can you guess what it is? We’ll give you a hint, change the G to an F!

Although these click identifiers have been around for a while now, the chances are you won’t have noticed them unless you check your analytics regularly. They often go undetected even though they play a crucial role in your Google Ads and analytics that we’ll cover later.

In reality, Google could have named their click identifier whatever they wanted, and we could be talking about GCI or GCID right now. However, the characters and what parameter is added to the URL is irrelevant; the most important thing is understanding what it does and why it’s there.

What Does The GCLID Do?

man explaining the gclid

Now you fully understand what the GCLID stands for, what does it do on your website?

As you may know, Google has various tools and services that it offers to users such as Google Analytics, Google ads, Google search console and so on. In order for all those services to communicate together and share data, it has to be passed over somehow. The smarty pants at Google decided that using a unique tracking parameter is the simplest and most efficient way to do so. This means that every click your Google ad receives, it will have a tracking code built into the URL address. This tracking code is the GCLID with a unique number that can be used in your Google analytics to display more information about the click received.

The GCLID sends information such as the:

  • Source
  • Campaign
  • Keyword
  • Match type
  • Ad Creative (if running on Google’s display network)
  • Medium

All of this information is important for tracking the success of your PPC campaigns and optimising your campaigns to make a higher return.

Without knowing what your highest converting keyword is, you would struggle to improve your ROI. Thankfully, all of this juicy data is saved in your analytics so you can take advantage of it.

How To Add GCLIDs To Your URLs

gclids url

Once you understand the importance of GCLIDs and how essential they are for your analytics and tracking, you’re probably wondering how they get in the URL in the first place. If you didn’t add them yourself, then something must be adding them, right?

Currently, as part of Google’s ad service, users are given the option to enable “auto-tagging”. It’s this tagging that automatically adds the GCLID to the end of the URL without you having to do anything. Not only does this save a lot of time, but it also helps minimise the risk of user errors which could break your ads completely.

Although Google Ads users are free to use their own 3rd party tracking tools, many opt for Google’s own analytics. Not only is it free, but with the ability to display a range of graphs and charts, it has become the industry standard for tracking.

If you do opt for 3rd party tracking software, then you’ll notice your ads won’t contain any GCLIDs. Instead, they’ll include a custom tracking identifier that is unique to that software and click.

However, unlike Google’s auto-tagging feature you may need to install your own tracking template within Google Ads. If you don’t have any experience doing this, then there’s a possibility you could break your ads entirely. There’s a reason why Google Analytics is so popular!

Enjoy Auto-tagging? What About Auto Fraud Protection?

Having Google automatically collect your Google Ads data and send it to Google analytics is a godsend. Not only does it save you lots of time, but the information you gain from the clicks can help you re-optimise your campaigns and make more money.

If you’re a fan of auto-tagging and Google analytics working together, then you’ll love PPC Protect.

Built to protect your ads and save you money, PPC Protect automatically tracks everyone who clicks your ads and determines if they are fraudulent or not.

Say goodbye to clicks from your competitors and annoying users who keep wasting your budget. Simply install our tracking script in your Google Ads account, and we’ll do all the hard work.

See how much of your monthly Google Ads budget you can save with our free 14-day trial. Click below to register and install our software; it only takes a few minutes!