Google Analytics fixes paid search attribution

Google is rolling out an update to attribution models in Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to more accurately credit paid search campaigns for driving conversions.

Why it matters. The change addresses an issue where conversions that should be attributed to paid search clicks were sometimes incorrectly assigned to organic search, especially for single-page applications.

Why we care. This attribution adjustment in GA4 is aimed at giving advertisers more accurate data to make informed decisions, invest efficiently and optimize based on actual paid search performance – which is critical as measurement and attribution grow more complex.

How it works. Currently, the ‘gclid’ parameter that identifies a paid search click doesn’t always persist across pageviews.

The upcoming update will adjust how GA4 captures campaign data on the first event of each new page.
If users leave and return through a different channel, the attribution will update accordingly.

What to watch. The attribution fix may increase the number of conversions counted as coming from paid search campaigns.

This could have an impact on advertisers’ Ads campaign budgets and spending. Google recommends reviewing and adjusting budget caps before the update rolls out over the next two weeks.

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Between the lines. Accurate attribution has long been a challenge as user journeys grow more complex across multiple sessions and channels. This update aims to resolve a specific blind spot in how GA4 tracks paid search conversions.

The big picture. As Google moves toward a cookieless future with initiatives like Topics API, robust first-party analytics and attribution capabilities across its products will be crucial for advertisers.

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About the author

Anu Adegbola

Anu Adegbola has been Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land since 2024. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media, video and more.

In 2008, Anu’s career started with

 delivering digital marketing campaigns (mostly but not exclusively Paid Search) by building strategies, maximising ROI, automating repetitive processes and bringing efficiency from every part of marketing departments through inspiring leadership both on agency, client and marketing tech side.

Outside editing Search Engine Land article she is the founder of PPC networking event – PPC Live, host of weekly podcast PPCChat Roundup, and brand evangelist at ClickTech. 
She is also an international speaker with some of the stages she has presented on being SMX (US), SMX (Munich), Friends of Search (Amsterdam), brightonSEO, The Marketing Meetup, HeroConf (PPC Hero), SearchLove, BiddableWorld, SESLondon, PPC Chat Live, AdWorld Experience (Bologna) and more.

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