When you’ve invested in banner ads or other marketing tactics you oftern rely on the other party to supply you with impressions and click through rates. That’s great, but it’s often not enough to know that you’re getting traffic from a part of your campaign: you need to know what that traffic does on your site and more importantly if it’s generating you income. Well, there is an easy way for you to take control of this.

Google has a free and easily accessible tool for tracking your inbound link traffic. If you’re using AdWords, you might already be familiar with the automatic link tracking Google provides. The company provides further support with the Google URL builder, through which you can create links that are trackable in your Google Analytics account.

How to do it

  1. Head over to Google’s URL Builder
  2. Enter the URL of your landing page
  3. Define some of the parameters of the trackable link. You must enter the source of the traffic (for example www.myadvertisingishere.co.uk), the medium (e.g. banner ad or email), and a campaign name (eg. ‘Email marketing’ or ‘Joint Venture promo’). Other options include identifying the keywords you want to monitor, and an extra field to help you differentiate between ads.

The resulting URL is a long one. Some site owners prefer to run it through a URL-shortener such as TinyURL.com to turn it into something more visually attractive. If you have control over the way the link is presented, as you should with a banner ad, this shouldn’t make too much difference.

The many uses of link tracking

Google pushes its link-tracking tool as a way to monitor your internet advertising, but there are many ways that you can make use of this tracking tool. It can be a great way to get specific information on the different parts of your entire link building campaign.

  • Social media profiles – No matter who you are, your online marketing plan these days will have to include social media optimisation in some way. Placing a tracker on links within your social media profiles is a great idea – it can help you build on your SEO campaign and let you know which of the many social media sites really click with your business.
  • Email marketing – Say you’re sponsoring an email bulletin, using the URL builder you’d be able to track not only how much traffic the venture generated but also what the site visitors did when they arrived at your site.

The SEO implications

There is one downside when using this tool, and that’s giving up a little of your SEO control. In generating a special link through Google, you create one of those clunky URLs that most SEO bods try to avoid. However, there are two reasons not to worry about it too much:

  1. The resulting URL contains your original link, meaning not all your hard keyword-wrangling is wasted
  2. Other aspects of your link should override the small inconvenience of a clunky URL, such as the way your link is presented on the linking page

It is also possible to use the trackable URL for a particular tracking period, perhaps just to test the effectiveness of a new banner or location, and you can then replace it when you are certain of the success of your campaign.

Tracking links isn’t just a good idea; it’s essential if you want to be sure your search engine optimisation and internet marketing plans are on track. With such an easy tool on offer, there’s nothing stopping you.

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