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May 19, 2010

5 Types of Links You May Not Have Thought of Tracking

Think you’re doing a good job of tracking and measuring the success of every link to your website that gets announced to the world in some fashion?

While most website marketers are tracking website referrals from search engines, as well as links from other websites and paid search advertising campaigns, a lot of visitors show up as “Direct Traffic.” Do you ever wonder where they came from? I know that I do!

I’ve talked about ‘campaign tracking’ via Google Analytics before, so I won’t bore you with the mechanics of how to create these links so they don’t look ugly. But do read that article if you need a refresher course. After you have a good system in place for adding campaign tracking codes to your URLs, the most important thing you can do is remember to use them on everything!

So here are 5 categories of links that you may not have thought about tracking, but should be:

1. Email Signature Links. Most of you have at least one link to your website in your email signature that goes out in most every email you send. But how many of you are tracking whether anyone clicks on them or not? I know that I rarely click on other people’s email signature links. With that in mind, I was curious whether mine ever get clicked, so I appended them with some campaign tracking codes. Turns out they don’t get too many
clicks (just 8 this past month), but keep in mind that I don’t have any sort of call to action in my signature, as some do. It would be fun to experiment with different offers in the signature to see how those fare.

2. Specific Words or Graphics Within Your Website. Do you have call-to-action buttons or text links on various pages of your website where you’re trying to elicit a specific response from your site visitors? Are you measuring them? For instance, on our website we have an image prominently featured on every page. It rotates between a call-out to subscribe to the High Rankings Advisor newsletter and one that provides more info on our low-end SEO website review. Because I look at the site every day and am not part of our target audience, I’m basically blind to the images.

For a long time I assumed that most who visited our site would never click those images. Well, you know what they say about ASSuming things! After I added tracking codes to those images, I learned that people do indeed click them, and about 75% of those who click the newsletter image end up following through and subscribing. And more than 5% of those click to the SEO review page and fill out our contact form for more information. Hardly what I would call blind!

3. Offline Marketing. You should of course have specific tracking URLs for any offline advertising you do in radio, TV, newspapers and magazines. But remember to add tracking codes to your links from other places where you’re able to list your website URL, such as business cards, classified ads and telephone book ads. Does your business have a sign? How about a tracked URL there? Have a VW Beetle wrapped as a roving ad for your website? Use a tracking URL. Give your website address out on the phone a lot? Provide a tracking URL.

4. Article Bio Links. You all know the power of writing content such as guest articles for other websites, blogs and newsletters in your niche, but are you tracking those links? While you can see the referring URL in your analytics when they come from a specific website, you can get more granular with your analysis when you have added tracking codes to the links back. For instance, with tracking codes in place, you can see which
articles, in general, referred the most traffic to your site regardless of where they were posted.

5. Social Media Status Updates. I covered this one in the aforementioned article, so I won’t belabor it, but didn’t want to leave it out because any links that you Tweet, add to Facebook, or leave in a LinkedIn update should have tracking codes. Clicks from social media often come without a referrer for many reasons, making campaign tracking your best bet for measuring their effectiveness. Remember to use tracking URLs in your profile link back to your site as well, so you can easily know which profiles bring actual site visitors and which don’t.

Only with campaign tracking codes appended to any and all URLs can you quickly and easily know what media are bringing visitors to your site, as well as seeing what actions they take (or don’t) once they get there!

Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings and co-founder of SEMNE, has been performing SEO services since 1995. Jill is the host of the High Rankings Advisor newsletter and the High Rankings SEO forum.