Case Against Tracking CTR

QUESTION: Should I include a URL tracking link in my Resource Box?

ANSWER: No, you should not include a tracking link in your resource box.

Here are 8 arguments against using tracking links in articles that you intend to put into distribution/syndication on EzineArticles.com:

  1. It’s human nature to not want to be tracked. Most readers of your articles hover over your link and if they think they are being tracked or they can’t predict where your tracking URL is taking them, they may not click.
  2. Your link may be mis-interpreted by your readership as being a “phishing link” and thus they won’t trust you.
  3. If your tracking link is not the same brand URL as your business URL, you’ll lose a branding opportunity.
  4. You lose search engine love by passing URL’s with tracking parameters.
  5. Are you really going to track CTR for years, decades and beyond? What happens to the links in your articles if you discontinue in 2 years tracking CTR? If you think long-term, you’ll realize that tracking URL’s are not smart when it comes to article marketing.
  6. Assuming you know that you should include a valid http:// URL in your resource box (instead of just an anchored text link), a URL without a tracking parameter included would keep the URL shorter and easier to present in TEXT based newsletters and other short column width reprints of your article. Often times tracking link URL’s are very long…too long.
  7. Ezine Publishers/Webmasters may overlook or reject your article as being not as good as one without a tracking URL… ie: They’re concerned about their users trusting your link as being valid.
  8. Your article may be wrongly rejected due to newbie Editors of ours who can’t quickly discern a tracking URL from an affiliate URL. They often look the same. This adds unnecessary delay into your article review & acceptance process.

In conclusion, it’s best to only include your regular http://Your-Company-Name.com/ in your Resource Box and/or a simple anchored text link. Don’t be like “Bob” in the cartoon and leave the tracking links out of your articles. :)

Agree/Disagree? Your thoughts?

37 Comments »


1
Paul Lalley writes:

Man, talk about shooting yourself in the foot, Knight. Could you provide additional reasons NOT to submit to ezine?

I am consistently amazed at the bad information provided by this blog.

Go through the your 8 reasons:

“may not click” – wow, that’s scary

phishing using authority links? Phishers don’t use this technique. It doesn’t produce enough useful data. Much easier to blast an emal about my BA account than try to pass through the editorial process that is ezine. Get real.

where did you get “you lose a branding opportunity” that’s the whole point of sites like ezine. The value of your service sinks like a stone if it doesn’t deliver visitors to my site

I might lose the link in a PR or newsletter? True, but my articles are more likly to get picked up by sites or blogs based on my research

Ezine editors – ahh, now we’re getting somewhere. Yes, your contributors might send your readers to
another site, but again, you’ve qualified your warnings so much – might, may, etc. that again, the information is pure speculation on your part

Rejected by a newbie editor? Your response to my Twitter issues indicate that you value quality content so little that I suspect MOST of your human editors are noobs.

Yeah, I use ezine for its value in creating SERPs links but as a resource for content, you guys have a lot to learn from your contributors – and frankly, your responses on Twitter are just plain rude.

Paul Lalley
editor@webwordslinger.com

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 4:37 PM

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2

Paul,

You do know that we’re talking about not including tracking URLs in your Resource Box and not about tracking your CTR (URL clicks divided by Article Views)… Sorry if I didn’t make that more clear.

In other words: I think everyone should track their CTR as we provide it in your Article Reports… But you should not include your own tracking URL in your Resource Box.

Lastly: We do Allow tracking URLs to be used in your Resource Box…This blog entry was done to make our argument against the practice by about a few hundred of our members.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 4:52 PM

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3
Brian writes:

I’m brand new to ezine. So, forgive a dumb question. Should I do a link like this http://www.treasuredlocks.com or should I type out all of the HTML, etc?

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 4:58 PM

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4
Edward writes:

Interesting article. I just recently started using Google display ads and noticed they have a metric that shows “mouseover rate” which is how many times someone moused over the ad.

It’s helpful and shows you the comparison between click through and mouseover. Perhaps something like this could be applied to EZA?

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 4:59 PM

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5
Karen Mueller writes:

Absolutely AGREE !!!

Articles will work for years (I know), so you want a real website link in your resource box, Dudes.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 5:08 PM

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6

Brian,

You can just include your URL as you did in your blog comment and our system will auto link it up provided you put your URL in the resource box.

You only need to do HTML code when you want to do an anchored text link.

Edward,

Great suggestion! We’ll look into it.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 5:09 PM

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7
DAE writes:

I’m impressed you left Paul’s comments intact. I was just think about this issue today, albeit in a slightly different context. All good points.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 5:31 PM

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8
Lauren writes:

I really have to agree with Paul on this. My first thought when I saw this title? Give me a reason NOT to submit to Ezine. He took the words right out of my mouth; and if two separate people have that immediate reaction, it’s not a good promotion for using ezine. I thought the whole point was to increase traffic to one’s articles; isn’t tracking usually advised in order to achieve this?

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 5:34 PM

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9
Dianne Gregg writes:

I’m am so relieved that I am doing it the right way!
Thanks, Chris.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 5:35 PM

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10
Lonnie Minton writes:

I agree.

Especially with the branding and search engine aspects.

If I go to the trouble to find a URL that contains my keywords and then change the url to use tracking, then my keywords will not be in the url for the search engine to find.

Lonnie

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 5:37 PM

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11
Larry writes:

I don’t feel the tracking link is necessary in the resource box.

What I would like to see is a way to track who copies and re-publishes articles from EzineArticles. I recently ran across a website that is copying articles and not including the resource box nor crediting the source of the article.

I realize this goes on a lot, but I feel this is something that could be worked on. There is no reason someone should be able to copy published articles and receive credit for them.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 5:44 PM

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12
Paul Lalley writes:

While browsing SERPs to see which sites downloaded which articles from ezine, I saw one that didn’t seem to fit any of my categories.

Upon opening the link, I saw the site owner had taken my beautifully crafted text and inserted “Viagra”, “penis enlarger” and other “keywords” in between MY WORDS. LIKE 100 times!

And trying to get this troll to remove my text was (is) impossible since he’s 12 time zones away and I don’t know a thing about Malaysian intellectual property law.

webwordslinger

PS Yes, Chris I know exactly what you mean regarding links. The problem is, your recommendations don’t synch up with positive and negative ranking factors (amorphous, yes) but a link is a link is a link and I’ll take a non-reciprocal in-bound any day. That’s why we post to ezine.

Bots simply follow links, they don’t move about randomly so if an embedded link brings a bot to a page on my site, that’s a good thing.

SEOmoz ran a survey a while back (available on SEOmoz.org) on positive and negative ranking factors and while there’s disagreement on some of these factors, the majority of survey takers would disagree with almost every one of your eight points.

I’ll say it again – you could NOT have written a better post on why to avoid posting to ezine or other syndicators who employ the same guidlines that ezine does.

Take a look at the SEOmoz survey. I’d love to hear your response to this thread after you’ve read it over.

webwordslinger

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 6:02 PM

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13
Eric ROth writes:

As a relative newbie both to ezine and website promotion, I’ve found this discussion illuminating.

I wish every company required that each link only go to the page actually printed. I had a Clickbank person misdirect traffic using my website address in their ads so tricks and manipulations do occur. Google and the other search engines should find a way to guarantee that the address given is the address actually linked to. This improvement would avoid confusion and fraud while improving customer confidence and internet commerce.

Or so it seems to me.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 6:33 PM

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14
John T writes:

Everything in the message appears true to me. As I have long thought that my clickbank address has been compromized as well as tiny url’s. Again i have also seen articles that i swear i wrote the base model yet a few words have been changed and re written to ezines. Of course I can’t say with exact certaincy, BUT?? If we put hidden code into the page it just will not allow us to publish so how does one track the downloaders and reprinters.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 7:07 PM

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15
Sheila writes:

I’m still back on point number 1. And I agree. I hate to read an article (anywhere online) and have some stupid popup box appear because some of the words in the article are linked to crap I could care less about, and the popup is irritating as heck.

I think your post is quite informative. I don’t use Google ads at all because I just haven’t bought into the concept yet. Actually, I only recently even placed a PHP form on my website. I still talk with so many people who do not like filling out forms online, or such. I even had one guy say he didn’t like my site because I’d had my portfolio items in PDFs that he had to wait to download! So, we can all get as fancy as we want but there are new people on the internet everyday and they just aren’t that sophisticated or savvy yet.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 8:06 PM

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16
Dianne Gregg writes:

This is for Larry.

I had someone steal my article too!
What I did was in their comments box is thank them and remind him he didn’t give my info, so I added it in myself.

At least I felt better. And, I look at it this way, people are going to steal – so I’m flattered they thought highly of the article to use it.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 8:14 PM

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17
Liz writes:

The beauty of the internet is that you have the possibility to track each and every activity to better understand the behaviour of your audience. People us heatmaps, track individual links on pages, section of pages… even eye movement.

I see no reason why tracking your link through your resource box should be a discouraged.

I would say there are good and bad ways of doing it… but not to do it at all?

I personally like to track my links so that I have a centralized place to check my results without having to visit each and every article directory or website that my article is published.

I also like to track how many clicks I get and the conversion to sales or leads, this will allow me determine the impact of the same article or similar articles posted on different sources.

Maybe I want to test the impact of different versions of my lead page on a certain audience.

I would agree to discourage anyone from using a different domain name other than the one a visitor will click to see.

However if you want to direct people to a specific page other than your home page, one that is relevant to the subject at hand, then you won’t have a choice than to give that exact link. And your tracking URL acts in the same way. You can always shorten your tracking URL with a permanent redirect within the same domain name, people are used to this.

In conclusion I don’t see why anyone should be discouraged to track his/her resource box, I just can’t see the reason why micro tracking should be encouraged everywhere other than your resource box! The more you know about your visitors behaviour the better for your business.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 8:14 PM

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18
Gisele writes:

Okay,

I’ll ask a stupid question. What’s a tracking link? How does it differ from our business URL’s ?

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 8:31 PM

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19
David Quimby writes:

I agree way should you track your article when your webpage or blog tells you where the contact was sent from. Tracks has it place but not on your articles, and if someone else is using some of what you think is your writing you should be happy that they thought it was good enough to use in what they are doing. yes they should give you mention but they are just trying to be as good as you.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 8:32 PM

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20
Chris Hecker writes:

I agree with your blog post 100% Chris. I too was impressed with you posting Paul’s comments. Thanks for the informative post.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 8:54 PM

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21
Jeanette Cates writes:

I’m torn on this issue. I can see why you are against tracking URLs. It does take some education for your readers (and especially your editors who SHOULD know the difference!). I prefer using tracking URLs for two reasons:
1. They ARE at my domain so they reinforce my brand. And they show me how many EzineArticle clicks resulted in sales and/or optins. Your web stats only tell you where they came from – not what they did after they got to your site. A tracking URL follows them all the way through the process.
2. With the longer domain names (especially if it’s a blog with a long page title) the URLs are often waaaaaaaa too long to use in a practical way. In an email they wrap. In a website they sometimes wrap. And we have a hard enough time getting people to provide links without having them have to link around a corner on the line.

My tracking links are 43 characters long and are much friendlier than many other actual links I could use in my call to action.

So while I see your point, I will continue to use tracking links.

Comment provided February 5, 2009 at 10:52 PM

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22
Jenny writes:

Thanks for the informative post. Very helpful for newbies like me. Instead of using a tracking link, publishers can use a tracking script in the landing page. I use Google Analytics for this purpose.

Keep us the good work,
Jenny.

Comment provided February 6, 2009 at 1:22 AM

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23

I agree completely with this opinion of yours.
There are a million reasons why tracking link should not be included in the resources box just as you have enumerated.
I think people should be taught on how to make use of their own home pages and try as much as possible to avoid using it.

Comment provided February 6, 2009 at 5:14 AM

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24
Lance Winslow writes:

Hey that cartoon surely says it all? But I have my aluminum hat on now, so I am safe!

Comment provided February 6, 2009 at 5:43 AM

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25
Damien writes:

Are you kidding me? EVERY single reason you gave was completely insignificant.

I have no idea why you would recommend against this…because it isn’t for the reasons you shouldn’t be doing it, as per the list.

Shocked and disappointed with you Ezine.

Comment provided February 6, 2009 at 5:54 AM

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26
ChrisCD writes:

I can see value in both points of view. I think whether you use a tracking URL really depends on the end purpose.

If you are trying to track direct sales from the article, then a tracking URL is certainly helpful.

However, if you are trying to build brand recognition or backlinks than a properly formed backlink would be necessary.

My purpose for articles is providing extra information not contained on our site, but that hopefully entices the person to visit and find out more about us. The backlink back to the site is a good reward for providing good content for the article directory.

cd :O)

Comment provided February 6, 2009 at 4:02 PM

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27
Ambonieum writes:

The CTR tracking is valuable tool to review your efforts. If your effort is not paying off, I mean writing articles, and not getting any visitors. Also it is meaningless to attract visitors who are not interested in your website. I trust Tracking takes care of this apply, test, data, review, revise strategy process of any active work we do.

Ambonieum.com

Comment provided February 6, 2009 at 4:54 PM

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28
Heidi Walter writes:

OK, I’m lost. And a newbie. What exactly is a tracking link and why would I want it in my resource box?

Thanks for any clarification.

Comment provided February 6, 2009 at 5:16 PM

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29
Liz writes:

Hello Heidi.

Assuming you wanted to track how many people clicked on your website link that you placed in your resource box, and to determine how many of those people who visited through that link actually performed an action

– Either to buy your product or service
– Sign up for a free offer, or your newsletter
– Contact you using your contact form
– left the website without doing anything
– and more..

Then you will use a tracking link to help you measure this.

You will need an software or service to help you do the tacking

It will require that you place a special link for example http://www.site.com/123track and any click on this will be recorded.

Comment provided February 7, 2009 at 4:40 AM

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30
Heidi Walter writes:

Thank you much, Liz, for this info. I shall save it for later when I have actually written an article!

Heidi

Comment provided February 7, 2009 at 9:13 AM

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31

All,

I’ve read your comments and appreciate that you’re participating in this discussion.

If I had Thursday to repeat over, I’d probably not have done this blog entry…

Paul,

I never intended to make the main points of my post above to lead a person to improve their SEO results.

I disagree with your opinion that this blog entry would give members a reason to avoid a site like ours other than I discussed “what not to do” (admittedly a negative approach) rather than a more positive “here’s what to do” approach. That’s what I would have done over if I could have repeated Thursday.

What’s really confusing to me is why your 13 articles have zero links in them (Paul’s articles) yet you’re arguing the positive points of receiving non-reciprocal in-bound links. It’s your right to not include links in your articles, but it is confusing to me why you’d pick a public battle over an issue (tracking URL’s instead of non-tracking URL’s) that doesn’t appear to apply to your own articles?

I can only guess that you are here to help me and us become better or smarter; otherwise you’d have blown this blog entry off and ignored it as the “BS” you called it. My gut feeling is that you care about our success, yet don’t care for the way I communicated, the topic of this blog entry or our positions on the issue.

Lauren,

Include URL tracking links if you want to. We allow it as I’ve already said.

Comment provided February 7, 2009 at 2:48 PM

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32

A fitting quote for this thread:

‚¬“The greatest problem of communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.‚¬~ George Bernard Shaw

Comment provided February 7, 2009 at 2:56 PM

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33
Paul Lalley writes:

Knight,

I don’t use tracking URLs because they aren’t necessary and take on the look and feel of a self-serving extra step. My Ezine pieces are still tracked on SERPs through my authority link so I get the link love any way.

I also sign each submission with name and URL to ensure easy access if a reader wants to track/reach me. Much less “low-rent” than a tracking link, IMHO.

Ezine and other syndicators all offer the option. My complaints with your post are that (1) you never explained the pros and cons of using tracking links, (2) from responses in the thread you’ve mislead potential submitters who don’t know a tracking link from an authority link and (3) in the process, you posted information that is confusing and, frankly, just plain wrong.

No one ever said anything about SEO. SEO has nothing to do with submitting to Ezine. I don’t even know what that has to do with this discussion! Syndication has a marginal effect on PR according to the pros from Dover (see SEOmoz Google ranking factors survey).

And you’re the Ezine expert. When I see dis-information from the man tasked with driving business, I have to respond. I follow your blog posts and have ignored numerous mis-statements regarding the benefits of article submission. This time, the info was SO off base it would lead non-contributors to skip the whole process.

To the point of drumming up business, Helium has hired Barbara Whitlock to trawl the waters at Linkedin looking for talent. Barbara joined the group I started on Linkedin and provided all members with her email addy to streamline submissions.

When I brought this to your attention, your reaction was “so what?” or words to that effect. If you want to draw in more writers who deliver quality content instead of drivel, Ezine might do better with a more pro-active approach to soliciting contributors rather than defending incorrect information parsed in a post that actually slams your own business.

You and I have butted heads previously with Ezine’s use of machine readers to assess writing quality. I’ve responded to your Tweets and received nothing but a “so what” response each time. If you’re going to Tweet and post, a more helpful attitude would work wonders. Ask Barbara Whitlock from Helium.

You’ll note the posting dates on the pieces I have on Ezine and see that most of them were posted before you and I encountered each other.

There’s a reason for that and though your response to my rant is reasoned in THIS thread, I’ve also been told to peddle my word wares elsewhere if I don’t like Ezine’s machine readers or editorial guidelines. So, I simply took your advice and post to Helium, goarticles and other syndicators to build search engine results.

I’m not swimming upstream trying to get through the Ezine morass when you depend on submissions to generate revenues. There are other syndicators who actually go out looking for good writers.

I’ll go with them. Does Ezine management ever read your posts and Tweets? If so, the problem might be higher up.

Paul Lalley
editor@webwordslinger.com

PS Your gut instinct is correct. Ezine does serve a purpose and I do care about its success. However, confusing info is still confusing info and I’ve never seen more confusing posts on one blog than this one.

As far as “picking a public battle,” it’s in response to a public post! I’d be happy to debate the matter over a single malt scotch if you’d like, but if you post on a public blog, how else would you suggest I respond?

In any case, thanks for the “answers”, Knight. At least you recognize the problem. Now all you have to do is solve it.
PL

Comment provided February 7, 2009 at 3:43 PM

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34

Paul,

I did a comprehensive history search looking for every prior interaction we’ve had and this is the first that I’m hearing about who “Barbara Whitlock” is.

I saw your early January comments were you felt unhappy that we rolled out a Premium membership option but I didn’t see anything I could say to respond to that issue that would make you happy.

I do agree that we must take a proactive approach to attracting high quality expert authors… This something very important to us and it’s the reason we doubled our behind-the-scenes team over the past year (to provide better/faster support). Unfortunately, it hasn’t been enough… and thus it’s our challenge to overcome.

Yes, EzineArticles management reads every blog post and every comment posted.

-Chris

Comment provided February 7, 2009 at 7:24 PM

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35

Chris,

You make a good case for not using ugly links.

For those that are die hard trackers, or at least want to track their traffic from at least an article stand point could create a special link that is easy on the eyes and tracks traffic from your articles such as:

For more information or a special report offer at:

yourdomain.com/freereport

This freereport extension would only be used in your article marketing efforts and can be used to track traffic from them…. and the link looks nice to boot.

Brian T. Edmondson
Internet Income Coach

Comment provided February 9, 2009 at 4:43 PM

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36
Buggerman writes:

The real reason is that they don’t want you to find out the difference between robotic (non human) traffic and real traffic. The reality is that article marketing is mostly seen as spam by Google as it is 99.99% crap, duplicate content. Just search EzineArticles for any popular topic and you will see countless thousands of rewrites.

So, the reality here is that if you track it you will most likely see terrible data that may make you look to other avenues for generating traffic. Google has lately placed an all out war on duplicate and crap content. They are even hitting similar content in an effort to get rid of article spam and limit the number of queries to quality results. The days of the adolescent or beginning article marketer or spammer are gone. Now it is quality and it must be really good quality to have staying power.

Ever wonder why when you submit an article it quickly fades out in effectiveness and you have to submit more and more to get the same results? Because you are getting hit with numerous duplicate content penalties. The other bad thing is that Google, in their algorithms, attaches any out going links (like those in your authors box) to the duplicate content and then you may soon see a PR drop or traffic and rankings drop to your websites – sort of a double whammy.

Don’t believe its happening? Go see the Google discussion boards or the official Google blog (also see Matt Cutts blog as he is the head of Google’s anti spam team).

Comment provided February 16, 2009 at 10:46 PM

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37

Buggerman,

I don’t agree with you that it’s all 99.99% crap.

Right now, we’re rejecting about ~35% as not meeting standards and I predict that will rise to ~40% by years end. Each month, the bar gets raised on what ‘quality’ is.

I respectfully disagree with the rest of your premises as traffic source has nothing to do with why I recommended to our members to not include a tracking link in their resource box.

At the end of the day, article writing & marketing still works especially for those who write high quality unique articles that they have the exclusives rights to.

I do agree that the marketplace is very efficient at identifying low quality articles and ignoring them…thus rendering the act of writing or rewriting and submitting low value articles only delivers low value or no value.

Comment provided February 17, 2009 at 7:07 AM

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