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Any way to track and still provide a 'direct' link?
rover




msg:479044
 8:02 pm on Jan 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

We have a specialized online directory. I always see posts in WebmasterWorld about how people find directory operators that provide links through a cgi/counter script, tricky, PR horders, scum bags etc.

Actually, we really don't mind linking directly to sites, but we find that the majority of site owners (we're not in a technical area) aren't very skilled at analyzing their web logs, and if we don't show them the level of clickthrough they are getting, in most cases we find that they never even realized it.

Also, we get a lot of free listings upgrading to paid listings by simply confirming with them the number of clickthroughs they are getting from our directory. (We found that we get low success rate when we mention advertising options, but a very high success rate when we mention advertising options and also note that they already recieved x number of clickthroughs from our directory over the past year.)

So, I'm wondering if anyone knows of a technique/way that we can both record clickthroughs for the individual links on our directories, but also have the major search engines such as google, yahoo, etc. recognize them as regular PR passing outgoing links?

Would a javascript onclick within the link work? Something like:

<a href="http://www.externalsitedomain.com" onclick="something here">Link to External Site</a>

Where the "something here" part would activate the cgi counter for the link?. Or is there some other way that anyone might know about?

 

Webwork




msg:479045
 5:34 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm a bit puzzled.

Are you saying that your customers don't check their logs for the origin of their traffic and instead rely upon you to tell them whether their investment in a directory listing produced a click yield?

I see some problems with this approach. That is not the same as saying you would create problems, just that the model is problematic and subject to abuse.

Oh, yeah, you had a great month! Our records show we sent you 3,000 visitors!

Absent an analytics package on the receiving end there's a validation gap and IF there's an analytics app running on the receiving end - and you're not charging based upon PPC - why the need for the reporting? Just to reassure customers that they're getting value?

Interesting but problematic.

rover




msg:479046
 6:20 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Are you saying that your customers don't check their logs for the origin of their traffic and instead rely upon you to tell them whether their investment in a directory listing produced a click yield?

Yes, for the majority (but not all of them). But they can certainly check their logs to verify what we are reporting.

Many are not technical at all, and often we find that they aren't really digging into their logs even if they know how to access them. For example, Google referrals (and often their own internal links) might dominate their page for referrers, and they don't always see other referrals at a quick glance.

why the need for the reporting? Just to reassure customers that they're getting value?

Yes, definitely. If they don't regularly check their log files, or if they use a basic log analysis program that just shows the top 20 referral URLs or something like that, they don't always get a full view of what is happening.

We are just pointing out to them, that our reports show that we are sending them x number of clickthroughs in case they didn't notice it from their own logs.

I know this can be puzzling for many WebmasterWorld users, but I think it's important to keep in mind that not everyone knows how to do even what we might consider very simple, obvious things. There are many fields where people don't have a lot of knowledge, sophistication about referrals, tracking, ROI, etc.

At any rate, we are just pointing out to them that our reports show that we have sent them x number of clickthroughs. The sophisticated users don't really need this information, because they already actively track these things, but the less-sophisticated users (the majority in our field), find this helpful.

Also, we have many users with multiple listings on our directory. Our tracking helps them to determine which of their listings is performing best, etc. Again, this is something they can figure out from their logs, but sometimes its easier just to bring up our reports which takes care of it automatically for them (and which they can verify through their own logs).

The reporting also helps us determine which types of listings are most popular with our users. This helps with our directory development, and to help target the types of clients that will get the best results from being included and advertising on our directory.

So, I was hoping their might be a technical solution that will allow for both tracking and direct links. But maybe this is something more for the Javascript forum?

stever




msg:479047
 7:36 pm on Jan 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not puzzling at all, rover.

I agree wholeheartedly with you about the lack of technical expertise and analytics in certain markets, where the decision to stump up for a paid listing is made to a large extent on whether the marketing email sounded good, or if the listing sounds cheap and the website has a good "look".

I understand your decision to compete on value-for-money - it's a great selling point once the site owners "get it" and, as you say, they can easily verify your statistics compared to rival directories once they understand the concept.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to your javascript question - and I too would be interested in the answer...

Perhaps something along the lines of displaying a client.gif image onclick and then counting the views of the client.gif?

dataguy




msg:479048
 8:57 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Very good question. I am in a very similar situation, and I've been contemplating switching over to this type of click-counting for awhile. The solution is no further away then checking out the coding behind Google's SERPs, as they use the javascript/onclick view image mechanism as described above.

Another reason to implement such a method is that Norton's Ad Blocker removes images and links that go directly through a click-counter that is hosted on the same domain that the link is on. I only count clicks on sponsored listings, but about once a month I have someone who upgades to a sponsored listing and then they can't see their link anymore. The solution above will fix this problem, I just haven't had the time to implement it.

encyclo




msg:479049
 9:19 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Here's an example link from my directory:

<a href="http://www.example.com/" onclick="window.location.href='/redir.htm?id=181';return false;">Example link</a>

The straight link is overridden by the onclick event when Javascript is enabled. Most human visitors have Javascript enabled, but expect a small amount of under-reporting for users who don't. Also, spiders don't have Javascript enabled so they will follow the straight link (and not be counted as clicks). In the case of a spider recognizing the redirect URL in the onclick, the script returns a 301 redirect rather than a 302 to avoid any possible hijacking problems.

This is the best way I've found to deal with the situation: it gives a straight link to the site for the spiders (eg. transfers PR), and the onclick event gives a pretty accurate count of human visits.

rover




msg:479050
 9:39 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks very much. That's what I was hoping would work. I appreciate it.

Also, I can't figure out if Google is tracking clicks on their organic search results. If they are, I would love to see how that works because when I look at the source code the links are completely straightforward as:

<!--m--><a href=http://example.com>Page Title</a>

I see the scripts on the page as:

<script><!--
function qs(el)
{if (window.RegExp && window.encodeURIComponent)
{var qe=encodeURIComponent(document.gs.q.value);
if (el.href.indexOf("q=")!=-1) {el.href=el.href.replace(new RegExp("q=[^&$]*"),"q="+qe);} else {el.href+="&q="+qe;}}return 1;}
// -->
</script>

<script>
<!--
function ss(w){window.status=w;return true;}function cs(){window.status='';
}
function ga(o,e){

if (document.getElementById){a=o.id.substring(1); p = "";r = "";g = e.target;if (g) { t = g.id;f = g.parentNode;if (f) {p = f.id;h = f.parentNode;
if (h) r = h.id;}} else{h = e.srcElement;f = h.parentNode;if (f) p = f.id;t = h.id;}if (t==a p==a r==a) return true; location.href=document.getElementById(a).href}}
//-->
</script>

Is that Are they providing direct links and still tracking somehow? I just can't figure it out...

dataguy




msg:479051
 10:44 pm on Jan 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just added encyclo's solution above, and it works like a charm... thanks!

g1smd




msg:479052
 2:25 pm on Jan 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google does not track on all results. Sometimes the link is a plain link. Other times it includes an onclick event. Try again, you'll spot an example some time.

Eltiti




msg:479053
 10:08 pm on Jan 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

<a href=http://www.example.com/ onmousedown="return clk(this,'res',9)">

together with:

function clk(el,ct,cd) {if(document.images){(new Image()).src="/url?sa=T&ct="+escape(ct)+"&cd="+escape(cd)+"&url="+escape(el.href)+"&ei=Gwd-QcrlHKdsfaAGdHcAg";}return true;}

When the JavaScript-enabled end user clicks on the link, Google first loads an image to which it passes the data it tracks.

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