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safe to track purchased inbound links?
Will tracking clicks coming from a purchases link hurt rankings?
Michael Weir

 8:53 pm on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Okay here's the situation. We (search engine marketing company) just built a widget portal site with all kinds of content pages based on competitive keyphrases relevant to widgets - that links through to a form on our clients widget site.

As we're starting to accumulate inbound links we're now going to be purchasing links/space on other sites since our specific widget keywords are in a pretty competitive vertical.

We wish to put a tracking code in the link that will send info to our database before redirecting the user to our widget portal page, so that we can monitor the performance of these purchased links.

So basically a web user will see our link, click it, some tracking code in the link will send us info, and then the user will be directed to the link's destination.Will this kind of action have adverse effects on our widget portal page and marketing campaign?

Michael Weir



 10:50 pm on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can't say I know for sure, but I don't think it should. Obviously it won't add link popularity value for the purchased links, but I assume by your scenario that you are more interested in actual traffic anyway. It sounds like a good way to make sure you get a good ROI on your purchased links.


 11:32 pm on Mar 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

A: A 301 redirect should ensure that any linking benefits carries through to the destination page, and
B: In this scenario you should be perfectly well served by tracking the referer and not need any code at all.



 7:07 am on Mar 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

What specific statistics are you hoping to track? If you're getting nitty gritty, sure you may want to do something like this. If you only want to know how many hits a link is sending you may not need to take it that far.

Good stats (in-house progs or otherwise) can do quite a bit even without click-tracking schemes.

I'd avoid this if at all possible because I'd want the link popularity.


 3:37 pm on Mar 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

B: In this scenario you should be perfectly well served by tracking the referer and not need any code at all.

Exactly :) I don't trust 301 redirects.

Who around here has successfully obtained PR with the use of a 301?

Michael Weir

 5:11 pm on Mar 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm not talking about a 301 redirect. There is just some tracking code in the link so that we can track how many clicks the link is getting.

The user is redirected through a third party tracking system (which drops a cookie or whatever into our in-house tracking software db) to the links destination.

As for link popularity vs. monitoring clicks - we wish for both.

Will this kind of redirect negatively effect our site, and/or prevent PR from transfering?

Thanks for the responses thus far, it is greatly appreciated! - keep em' coming. :)


 5:44 pm on Mar 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

If the link goes through a third party tracking system before actually going to the site, I don't see how the PR would be able to be passed to the site.

Michael Weir

 11:50 pm on Mar 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's tough to say. I mean, it's still a link from point A to point B, it just takes a slight detour along the way.


 12:03 am on Apr 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

It doesn't go from A to B, it goes from A to elswhere and somewhere, then anywhere ...before it arrives at the destination. No mileage there.

Michael Weir

 5:15 pm on Apr 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

Okay I'm not getting any definate answers here, so I guess we'll try it and see what happens. The best way to gain knowledge is to do it yourself, right?


 1:35 am on Apr 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

In order to do any real tracking you need to have the links go through your internal tracking system i.e. a script. When done with the processing the script should do a 301 redirect to the final destination. This *should* pass PR, especially since you are redirecting within the same domain.

I mean just think about it. If you have a great page that tons of sites link to, and then you have to move the page for some reason and you do a 301 to the new URL, why would G "penalize" you by not passing PR to the new page? This goes against their goal of providing relevant results if they basically "forget" the value they've placed on a page just because it moved within the same domain.

G specifically recommends using 301s where appropriate, and it just wouldn't be logical to penalize 301s within the same site, so I would have to assume it will pass PR. I'm doing this myself since it's the most logical way to handle the tracking issue, and I should know one way or another once the current dance is done.

Robert Charlton

 5:36 am on Apr 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm not talking about a 301 redirect. There is just some tracking code in the link so that we can track how many clicks the link is getting.

I'm not a programmer, but isn't it possible simply to put an onclick javascript event in a straight html link?

- The search engines wouldn't see the javascript... they'd just follow the link.

- Users with js enabled would activate the onclick event and get counted.

- Users without js enabled wouldn't get counted, but they'd be able to follow the link. So you'd have some margin of error, but one I'd think you could live with.

I assume this could be set up on a purchased link to report to your database.

Michael Weir

 5:59 pm on Apr 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

limit up, yeah that does make perfect sense. I'm not really sure what the action on the tracking link is so when we get around to that it will take some experimenting I guess.

RC - I'll have to try the OnClick method - I had not thought of that myself. :) I'm not sure how much you can do with a JS OnClick parameter - whether you can tell it to send a tracking cookie to our database, etc.

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