Tracking Outbound / Affiliate Links with getClicky

Clicky web analyticsI use Clicky for most of my day-to-day tracking and analysis, only using Google Analytics for the harder analyses. One of the things Clicky can do most wonderfully is track outbound clicks. There’s an issue however when you start routing your affiliate links through a script or on-site redirect. I redirect mine through /out/ here on yoast.com, but not all of the /out/ links need to be tracked. Let me show you how I do track the ones I need to track.

Forcing Clicky to track a link as outbound

First of all, you need to know that when you add a class clicky_log_outbound to a link, Clicky will track each click on that link as an outbound link. Now I always add a class track or aff to my affiliate links that I want to have tracked, for instance:

<a class="track" href="http://yoast.com/out/clicky/">Clicky</a>

Of course I could manually add the clicky_log_outbound class, but that’s just a tad bit too much work, especially as most of my links have been “classed” already and I might want to use this class for other stuff later on.

Now, I add a tiny filter function to my sites functions.php file, this searches for links with class aff or track and adds the clicky_log_outbound class:

function clicky_outbound_filter( $content ) {
	$content = preg_replace('/<a([^>]+)?class="(aff|track)"([^>]+)?>/',
		'<a1class="2 clicky_log_outbound"3>', $content);
	return $content;
}

add_filter( 'the_content', 'clicky_outbound_filter', 10, 1 );

That’s it! Clicky will now track those links as outbound. Now let’s set such a link up as a goal.

Goal Tracking in Clicky

For goal tracking you need to have a premium (read, paid) Clicky account, but it’s well worth it. Setting up a goal is a piece of cake. You go to your site’s analytics and then to Goals, Setup. You’ll see this interface:

Clicky goal tracking

You simply name the action, set the goal URL to be your outbound URL, you could do /out/clicky/ or, when you sometimes forget the last slash, /out/clicky*. You can set up revenue and even a funnel, a required page before one can reach that goal.

Once you’ve done that, the goals will show, in realtime, in your Goals overview and in your “bigscreen” Clicky display.

More tracking power: campaigns

This feature becomes even more powerful when you combine it with another great feature of Clicky; campaign tracking. Clicky fully supports the _utm type variables Google Analytics uses, so you can track campaigns and terms within campaigns. That is, in fact, how I did the tracking in yesterdays post about WordPress Dashboard widgets.

Tracking Outbound / Affiliate Links with getClicky is a post by on Yoast – Tweaking Websites.A good WordPress blog needs good hosting, you don’t want your blog to be slow, or, even worse, down, do you? Check out my thoughts on WordPress hosting!

On WordPress Dashboard Widgets

I was one of the first plugin developers to add a dashboard widget to your dashboard when you installed one of my plugins. I’m hoping people will follow me in doing the reverse as well. While it generates traffic, it doesn’t generate sales. Let me show you.

When I added mine, in the beginning, it drove lots and lots of traffic. People weren’t used to it yet and thought I had somehow “found my way into core”. Recently, I’ve added more elaborate tracking to my WordPress SEO plugin links. Allowing me to see how much traffic the individual sections of my plugin were sending back to my site. Let me share that with you now (click for a larger version):

Traffic and conversion statistics for plugin links for the last 28 days

Traffic and conversion statistics for plugin links for the last 28 days

As you can see, the widget sends a bit of traffic (1800 visitors in total) but only drove 3 conversions… Conversions on my site are click outs on affiliate programs and, more importantly, sales for my website review service. Turns out, people clicking on from the plugin interface or the plugin link are far more valuable visitors than people clicking on the dashboard widget.

So, in an effort to annoy less people and focus on the traffic that matters, I’ve just pushed out version 1.1.5 of my WordPress SEO plugin, without the dashboard widget. I will shortly remove it from my Google Analytics plugin too. Of course other developers should do their own analysis if they want to, but for me it’s clear that the widget doesn’t help enough to be interesting.

If you used the dashboard widget regularly to find new posts on my site, please consider subscribing to my newsletter using the form below!

On WordPress Dashboard Widgets is a post by on Yoast – Tweaking Websites.A good WordPress blog needs good hosting, you don’t want your blog to be slow, or, even worse, down, do you? Check out my thoughts on WordPress hosting!

Search & Social – you can’t get the cream out of the coffee

Yesterday, Google launched “Search plus your World“, intermixing search and social and providing even more “personalized” results. There’s a lot of outcry about some parts of this, with people saying they don’t want “personalized” results. I actually think that normal users do want personalized results and that this is, for the most part, a good thing.

There’s been some outcry though, because Twitter and Facebook aren’t “highlighted” as much as Google+ in those new social results. Danny is doing some awesome reporting on this, first in “Search Engines Should Be Like Santa From “Miracle On 34th Street”“, later in an interview with Schmidt.

Google used to have access to the Twitter firehose, all the tweets coming in in realtime, enabling them to index tweets at light speed. Facebook used to show some friends of a person on a profile to visitors to that profile who aren’t logged in, now look at the cache for my Facebook profile: just other people with the same name.

As I said in a reaction to a Google+ post by Jeff Jarvis: what both Twitter and Facebook are afraid of is that they’re “giving” “their” social graph to Google, thereby allowing Google to easily grow its own social network because it would make it very easy for Google to suggest friends to you or say “these friends of yours already use Google+, shouldn’t you use it too?”. So by opening up, they’d open their books to a competitor.

This, ultimately, should be a users choice, not a platform choice. When it does become a user choice, of course Google should favor the social network the user is the most active on, so if I’m more active on Facebook than on Twitter or Google+, it should highlight that above the others. Right now, it seems to be mostly highlighting Google+, which will raise some eyebrows here and there and is food for discussion.

A while back at the first Fusion Marketing Experience in Brussels, Bas van den Beld of State of Search interviewed Olivier Blanchard and myself about search and social. We talked about how the two intertwine and can’t be unraveled, in fact, as Olivier said during the interview: “it’s like coffee and cream, once they mix you can’t get the cream out of the coffee”. See the interview here (the sound is not the best ever, I know):

The thing is: this is a done deal. There’s no way back. Search and social have now officially teamed up, so you might as well live with it. It also means that not using Google+ is… Not really an option if you’re a marketer, but I guess we had that one coming for a while as well.

So, what does this mean from a tactics perspective? For now, it means: share every post on Google+ too, make sure you have Google+ buttons on your posts and, most importantly: keep building relations with people! It’s not like that much changed; social mentions might have become a new and maybe even important ranking factor, but even quality links are usually the result of a relation, of social interaction.

The formula to success didn’t change: you have to keep building relations / followers / an audience, create great content and make sure people notice it.

Search & Social – you can’t get the cream out of the coffee is a post by on Yoast – Tweaking Websites.A good WordPress blog needs good hosting, you don’t want your blog to be slow, or, even worse, down, do you? Check out my thoughts on WordPress hosting!