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Jul 25
2008

Have you ever experienced a call transfer from one department to another while you were calling to troubleshoot a problem in your machine or report a credit card fraud?

This annoying experience is similar to what we experience in web analytics when we deal with URL redirects. You request one URL and end up at another! Misconfigured URL redirects can cause data loss such as not seeing any data from one or more sources in your web analytics reports

It is common practice in many sites, especially e-commerce sites, to use redirect pages to track campaign performance. The problem is that the redirect usually removes extra parameters from URLs – parameters which are necessary for proper tracking in Google AdWords and Google Analytics.

In order to identify a visitor as a paid visitor in Google Analytics, AdWords auto-tagging adds a parameter to the end of any AdWords destination URL. This parameter is called gclid.

In a normal situation with no URL redirects, when people click on a paid ad with a destination URL such as http://www.mydomain.com/landingpage.aspx?id=54

the URL that they are supposed to go to might end up looking like this http://www.mydomain.com/landingpage.aspx?id=54&gclid=a1b2c3d4e5f6g7h8i9

If there was a poorly configured redirect at this point, the visitor might end up at this URL: http://www.mydomain.com/landingpage54.aspx *

* Note that the gclid parameter is gone and Google Analytics will consider the click as an organic visit and not as a paid visit.

Suggested solutions to this problem:

  1. Ask your webmaster to configure the redirect page to pass any parameters to the final URL. This is will allow you to maintain your internal redirects and properly segment your visitors.
  2. Tag your destination URLs manually:
    • utm_source = google
    • utm_medium = cpc
    • utm_term = your AdWords keyword (ex. e-nor blog)
    • utm_campaign = your AdWords campaign (ex. blog campaign)

    The final URL will look like this now: http://www.mydomain.com/landingpage54.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=e-nor%2Bblog&utm_campaign=blog%2BCampaign

  3. The best solution: do not use redirects at all!  My colleague at E-Nor, senior web analyst Rehan Asif, suggests not to use redirect at all. He says, “configure Google AdWords to send visitors straight to the landing page. Add whatever internal tracking scripts you want to us on the actual landing page.” (ex. http://www.mydomain.com/landingpage54.aspx)One of the reasons we usually suggest avoiding URL redirects is because of our concern about the keyword Quality Score. Page load time and number of redirects are an important factor in determining the Quality Score. Redirects could be slow at times which would lead to long page load times which would lead to low Quality Scores.

Thank you,

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