The 30 best ways to track links
Ad trackers normally help you discover how many views, clicks and conversions have been generated from your ads, whether they are banners, emails, text-links, posts, etc. Most advanced services, like ClickMeter, also provide additional info about the source and let you track links and compare different campaigns.
Some services, including ClickMeter, allow you to redirect visitors based on specific, special rules. For example, a visitor browsing on their smartphone can be redirected to the mobile version of your website. You can also redirect by language, nation and other rules, all of which are listed here.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common problems addressed by the ability to track links.
If you are managing web marketing campaigns for clients, then an ad-tracking tool is essential to optimize your efforts in many ways:
- To track the performance of the web-marketing campaigns you manage for your customers without asking to integrate codes on their website and without requesting passwords to access their existing tracking platforms, like Google Analytics.
- Track all your web marketing campaigns in one place.
- Re-brand reports with your logo.
- Let your customers access results from their marketing campaigns online and in real-time whenever they want.
- Provide third-party impartial reports.
- Access to a detailed list of single clicks, or views. This allows you to prove the data is true and to be aware of low quality or fraudulent clicks.
- To compare performances from different campaigns and customers.
If you are promoting products and services for online merchants, then a link tracker is a tool you can’t live without:
- Use short URLs, instead of long and ugly URLs, in your ads.
- Optimize for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A URL like mydomain.com/product-name is much more Search Engine Friendly than merchantdomain.com/productID?affcode:1234¶m=re33212 and the SEO is particularly effective if the tracking tool allows 301 redirects.
- Stand out using your own domain in the ad link, instead of the one provided by the merchant. This is essential to enforce your brand and not that of the merchant. It also boosts CTR and builds trust with your audience.
- Track all your promotions and links in one place without opening tons of different affiliates accounts every day.
- Cloak, or mask, your affiliate codes. This will prevent someone else changing your code with another in the redirect process – this happens quite often. In this way, you will not lose your commissions. You can find out more info here.
- Easily change your destination links: If an affiliate company change their links then your existing ads, wherever they are posted, become worthless. But if you use a tracking URL, you can simply revise the affiliate URL at the tracking control center. This also applies if an affiliate program is discontinued: you can use the existing links to promote another merchant.
- Double-check merchant and/or affiliate network stats. They may not be truthful or detailed.
If you run a news website, a blog, an e-book, an e-zine, a forum or any other site that produces traffic, then it is essential to track links and determine the volume and quality of your traffic so you can sell visibility and advertising to external companies:
- Detailed, real-time reports can be produced when you track links and, because they are from a third party provider, they will be trusted. This is particularly important if you’re running an advertising platform. The reports are detailed and can be shared in real-time. They will increase your credibility and, hopefully, advertiser spending.
- Measure your readership. How many readers are really accessing your articles? What is the most read article? Which article is producing the best results and conversions for your business? From which country, organization, city are your readers coming? Which external source or partner is sending you the most qualified readers?
- Public reports. You can allow your readers to access the list of most viewed articles to help promote them.
For Companies and anyone else
If you are managing the online marketing for your company, then tracking links is very helpful for checking your campaigns’ progress and optimizing them. You can concentrate your time and money on the ones that are working:
- Track all your campaigns and ads in one place. Which source is producing value? You don’t have to log in to many different control panels and access many different kinds of reports to discover what is working and what is not.
- Access to very detailed reports. Most publishers and visibility vendors, including Google AdWords and Facebook, do not allow you to see stats for every single click – and some minor ones don’t even provide reports. Accessing detailed reports allows you to better target your efforts.
- Share reports with partners and colleagues quickly and easily.
- Manage your online links properly. When you start advertising you publish a lot of links online. These links may remain live for years and can be compared to an online real estate property. Monitoring their status, productivity and being able to easily change the destination URL is very important to maximize the number and quality of visits to your website.
- If you want to create your own affiliate program then you need to track and share results (views, clicks and of course conversions) with your affiliates.
- Track CPC ads and stop click-fraud. You can determine if the clicks are coming from a bot or a spider or if many clicks are coming from the same IP, etc.
- A/B testing. Discover which ads, which landing pages, which messages and so on, are providing the most results for your business.
- Keep track of your conversion funnel and where you’re losing prospects. What is the process your customers are following before they purchase or subscribe? Where are you losing them? here you need to optimize?
- Track ROI. Input your costs and setup conversions to track revenues, this will allow you to track your return on investment for each campaign and ad in real-time.
There are many other cases where an ad tracker can be very useful, here are some.
- Track classified ads. For example, ads on Backpage or CraigsList.
- Stop piracy: If you use tracking URLs in your content you can detect if someone is copying it because the unique-tracking link will probably be copied too.
- Privacy: You may want to post a URL somewhere and – for reasons of your own – not let it reveal your website. You can do this with an Ad Tracking program where an alternative domain name is used in the tracking URL.
- In offline marketing use a QR code within your ads to track interest coming from newspapers, flyers, billboards, shop notice boards, magazines, and so on.
Whether you’re a publisher, an agency or an affiliate marketer, there is plenty of reason to track links. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can find a list of some other use cases here.
- How to mask URLs in affiliate tracking links
- How to pass parameters to a destination URL through tracking links
- Who opened my emails? How to use an email tracking pixel
- How retargeting links can expand your marketing reach
This blog post is about:
- How to track links
- Best ways to track links
- Link tracking
- Link tracking tools
Originally published: July 19th, 2017.
Updated: February 3rd, 2021.