Learning About Tracking

Mentors and gurus always advise us about tracking so that we can know where our visitors and customers come from. So how do we set about tracking?

Tracking
Not this sort of tracking

The first thing we need to do is to decide how much tracking we want to do. Google Analytics is free and can provide some basic information and there are many ways that we can view that information. However it does have its limitations, especially when we can only see where people are from by region and we cannot necessarily see exactly which site they’ve come from beforehand. To find that out we need external help.

This can be done for free or we can pay for the service. I’m going to concentrate on the free side. If anyone cares to tell us more about the paid side I’d be glad to provide a platform for the article.

One of the best known free link services is provided by bit.ly which is known more as a link shortenter but does have a tracking side as well. Link shortening started as a way of reducing the number of characters in a URL and also to hide affiliate links which often left the name or username of the person providing the link exposed to being removed or changed. A bit.ly shortened link (for which you need a bit.ly account) can, by the addition of the ‘+’ symbol at the end of it, allows the account owner of that link to see some basic stats about the visitors who use it.

For example:

Now is you make your tracking links slightly different (by making slightly different URLs before shortening them) even if they all go to the same place, and only use one shortened URL per traffic source, you will know which one has provided you with the most traffic. When I say changing the original URL I mean adding a change like this http://www.videotrafficacademy.com/?hop=steven938 ?link=1 and change the number on the end for each source you want to track. It doesn’t matter what you call the bit after the ? as all you need is something for you to recognise and something to make each link different. The bit.ly link changes to http://bit.ly/16sVD8a so now I can get stats for a different source. It goes to the same place and still hides my affiliate name but if I had 2 different landing pages, I would know which one performed better for me.

There is  far more you can do with tracking but at the budget end of the market and while you are learning, it is far better to keep things simple and useful. Learning too much at once can lead to paralysis by analysis where you freeze up and do nothing because you know too much and don’t know what to do with it all. Start simple, learn what you can do with simple and get used to simple, then add more IF and WHEN you think you need it.