Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Tools: Tracking Offsite Referrals

Ever wonder if anyone visits the websites or blogs you've been inspired by? Or the store fronts you window shop at or the items you want to fill your home or closet with? Does the position of a referral make a difference? Does anyone follow the links in captions or credits? Google Analytics can yield some clues.
First you have to add some code to the links you want to analyze. (This can be incredibly time consuming.)
Here's an example of a default link:
a href=""
Here's an example of a link set up to track events:
a href="" target="_blank" onClick="recordOutboundLink(this, 'Outbound Links - Within Post, Caption', '');return false;"
The text 'Outbound Links - Within Post, Caption' identifies the Event Category and can be replaced with something meaningful for you. I use this phrasing to identify a visitor who is leaving my blog and to count where the link was positioned. Depending on whether a link is in the text, the caption for a photo or collage, or the credits, I'll include a different phrase after Outbound Links, 'Within Post,' 'Within Post, Caption,' or Within Post, Credits,' respectively. Alternately, phrases can identify type of content.

The Event Action itself follows the Event Category and can be anything you want, for example, the link, an abbreviated version of the link, or a unique identifier. I typically shorten the link. becomes

From January to May 2011, I tracked whether link positioning affected click throughs. Links in captions were clicked the most (48.67% of all events), followed closely by links within the text of a post (32.74% of all events). Links in credits - at the bottom of posts - were clicked the least (15.04% of all events). Over the next four months (June through September), I'll be tracking the type of content that gets the most clicks.
What do you track on your blog?
Happy Analyzing!
Credits: All images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.