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Old 25th August 2008, 04:05 PM   #1
Deeger
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Default Tracking PPC

What's the best way to track how PPC ads are doing on other sites? I use sites like Google Analytics and StatCounter right now, but not for anything serious. How do I use those to track which PPC ads are doing well, and which aren't?

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Old 25th August 2008, 04:21 PM   #2
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The best way to track how your PPC ads are doing is to manually add a tracking parameter to the URL. For example, instead of setting up www.domain.com/pages.html as your landing page for Google AdWords, set it up as www.domain.com/pages.html?source=google

Then, in your web analytics you can see if the conversions are coming from Google, Yahoo, or whatever PPC program you're using.

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Old 25th August 2008, 07:39 PM   #3
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I'd be really interested in hearing opinions by SEO's on this one. Searchengineland.com (only one example) says:

Quote:
A static looking URL (containing no ampersands, equals signs, or question marks) is more search optimal than a dynamic one.
So, do you hurt your rankings by adding a question mark to gather stats? Does it effect the spidering of your site?

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Old 25th August 2008, 09:55 PM   #4
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The major SEs have had no problem spidering dynamic URLs for years now. Unfortunately, there's still a lot of outdated information circulating on the web about this issue.

You need static links to each URL (in other words, the pages have to be accessible through a link on another page or a menu, not just through filling in a search form), but having parameters (within reason) in your URL is absolutely not a problem for the SEs nowadays.

Many of the forums I participate in have query strings and other parameters in their URLs and have no problem getting indexed and ranked highly for many, many different search terms.

The general rule of thumb these days is to try to limit URLs to no more than three parameters, if possible. (This isn't a hard and fast rule, though -- you can have four parameters if your structure requires it, and it won't be the end of the world.) The only thing is -- the more parameters there are in the URL, the more "important" the page needs to be for the SEs to index it.

Having dynamic-looking URLs may affect spidering in that the SEs may "go easy" on dynamic sites to avoid overloading the server. Fortunately, frequency and speed of spidering have absolutely no effect on rankings.

--Torka

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Old 26th August 2008, 04:04 AM   #5
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Kim, I agree with what Diane is saying. But want to jump in because in this case I think the waters are getting muddied. Your reference is about spidering/organic.

The purpose of the url is only for ppc tracking.

Because of this the issue is not spidering.

I would take steps to avoid a ppc tracking url from being spidered so (1) there were not duplicate urls of the same content within the index and (2) the referrals with the parameters in the url were isolated to the ppc campaign

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Old 26th August 2008, 09:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
So, do you hurt your rankings by adding a question mark to gather stats?
This is PPC. You shouldn't be worrying about the search engine spiders and organic rankings. Logan is right, you need to take steps from allowing PPC landing pages being indexed.

I prefer to move my PPC landing pages to a separate directory on the site and then disallowing the robots from indexing that directory. So, move your PPC landing pages to domain.com/ppc/ and then stop the spiders from indexing that /ppc/ directory using robots.txt and adding a noindex meta tag to the pages.

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Old 27th August 2008, 10:58 PM   #7
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Logan and Bill are absolutely right. PPC URLs should absolutely be excluded from organic search spidering. Sorry if my answer confused the issue!

--Torka

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Old 31st August 2008, 08:26 PM   #8
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No, I think my lack of PPC knowledge is confusing the issue I've only worked w/organic SEO, but I have a client that does a hefty amount of ppc and I am trying to understand more about it. He has had problems in the past trying to determine if he is getting his money out of his investment. I was curious if adding the tracking parameter to the pages on his site would some how help him track his PPC closer, but was afraid it might effect the spidering/ranking of his site. Sorry if the question didn't make sense!

Sooooo, at the risk of sounding like an idiot (idot's must learn too, please be kind), are you referring to paid text ads on other sites and saying the url should include a tracking parameter? And then the page the url is referring to should not be spidered? Why would you not link the ad to your home page? Do you use a separate page to help track clicks thrus? Is it because they normally link to doorway pages?

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Old 31st August 2008, 11:31 PM   #9
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You can use tracking parameters in the URLs to enable you to see which ads are generating traffic. You would exclude URLs with these tracking parameters in them from being spidered, for two reasons.

First, each URL variation (with the tracking parameter) would be considered a different page -- because the tracking parameter makes the URL different. This means you could end up with multiple "copies" of the same page getting indexed. Google will decide which "copy" from the index to display in the organic search results, and it might not be the one you want.

As I mentioned above, Google and the others really don't have any problem spidering these "dynamic" looking URLs, so you have to actively exclude them if you don't want them to get indexed (and you shouldn't want that).

Second, the reason you don't want any of your paid ad landing URLs with tracking parameters displayed in organic search, is because if they're displayed in the organic results they might possibly get clicks. And this would skew your stats for the effectiveness of the paid ads. You might continue paying for an ad you thought was effective when the ad was actually running negative ROI, but the effect was being masked by people clicking through from the organic listings.

You can link the ad landing pages to your home page if you want (although in most cases I believe it's generally considered most effective when you only link out to the next page in the "funnel" and don't send people off to wander your general website). It's also generally considered more effective if you develop custom ad landing pages for each campaign, but you don't have to.

It's OK to use standard pages from within your site if they're relevant to the ad. If the ad landing pages are also standard pages within the website, of course it's OK to include links to/from them in the standard site navigation -- but you'd link to the "base" URL (no tracking parameter).

Any version of the URL with an ad tracking parameter should be excluded from the SE spiders. It's not that you're excluding the actual physical page, but rather the URL. The page will still get indexed under it's base URL, just not erroneously "duplicated" by URLs that contain the tracking parameter(s).

Does that make sense, or did I muddy the waters further?

--Torka

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Old 1st September 2008, 10:23 AM   #10
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Makes a lot of sense. Need to re-read and try to digest it all, but thank you for explaining in such depth!

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