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      Posts Tagged ‘RSS Tracking’

      Easy RSS Tracking

      posted by Webtrends Analytics 5:08 PM
      Monday, April 5, 2010

      Guest Post from Curtis Smith

      curtis-pic This post is about the different types of data tracking software for web sites and how to tell your web site is being tracked. It was written by Curtis Smith, Webtrends’ Technical Account Manager. Curtis spends his day assisting Webtrends customers manage the health and flow of their web site analytics data.

      RSS allows a wide variety of applications to access a list of links. It is often used to provide information on frequently updated content such as articles, white papers, and news. This can be an important connection to your customers.

      RSS pages are in a very simple format: text with no javascript, graphics, or other rich media we have become used to. RSS is so simple it can strike fear in the hearts of advanced analysts using SDC tags. The fancy tools of custom javascript tracking and GIF tags don’t work on the page! Complicating the issue is many RSS readers do not pass referring information. So you can’t reliably tell by referrer the amount of site traffic that is generated by your RSS feed. You can’t see user actions and you can’t see where they are coming from!

      You can implement server side tagging. This is doing tagging script on the server, having it send the tracking information instead of on-page code. But then you might have to talk to one of those IT hardware people (scary in itself). It may be you don’t have access to the servers or resources to do server side implementation.

      There is an easy method of tracking traffic from your RSS feed if the links go to content on your site. You can pass a parameter that tells the destination page that this traffic comes from the RSS feed. The tracking then takes place on your main site. The limitation is the regular page on your site needs to support SDC javascript tags. This method does not work if the RSS link is to a PDF or other file download or to a page not on your site.

      Implementing the code:

      There are two parameters that support RSS traffic reporting.

      WT.rss_f=FeedName This parameter identifies the RSS feed.

      WT.rss_a=ArticleName This parameter identifies the RSS article.

      This is optional if you have the article name from the destination page.

      You add these parameters with appropriate values to the link on the RSS page:

      rss_1

      Note, this is an example of how simple the RSS format is. You don’t have the <a href#&.com&^%@$#target=#@ /a> in HTML. It just says “link” and you put in the link.

      The parameters can be used in one of the built-in reports such as RSS Feed Usage.

      rss_2

      Or you can develop custom reports. By looking for pages that have the parameter(s) we know which views/visits came from the RSS feed. We can sort and link them how we want. For example a common report is comparing how many people read the article from the RSS vs other methods (search, direct, referred from other site). This lets you focus efforts on the most effective channel and make improvements to other channels. For the more adventurous measure how your RSS articles attributes to revenue or success events.

      As an alternative here’s a quick trick done with a different report. They just used a campaign ID with their RSS links.

      rss_3

      Then the RSS traffic drops right into your regular campaign tracking reports.

      There now. That wasn’t too scary was it?

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