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Http Referrer Tracking

As of January 13, 2012, the WebFindYou Platform now tracks how the users of a website come to know of that website either via a search engine search like Google, via a link on a social media site like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or directly, or via any other type of external link. The date and time of each entry are recorded to then provide you with a history log of each time a person entered the website up until a trackable action occurred (see more below). This is very powerful sales & marketing information that can help you better understand how your users are finding your website as well as their access and referral history that led to a trackable action. Furthermore, this allows you to measure the effectiveness of your SEO Campaign, your Google/Yahoo/Bing PayPerClick campaign, your Social Media efforts, or any other type of Internet marketing you are doing. However, as stated above, this trackable information is only available once that user takes action on the website via one of the current trackable actions as shown below. If a trackable action never occurs then you won't know the history of a particular user. Therefore, this is not a list of all entries into the website. To get that information view your Google Analytics report. See our FAQ & Important Notes section below for more information.

Trackable Actions
  1. Form Submission - For example a Contact Us or Schedule Service form.
  2. Newsletter Signup - If someone signed up for your newsletter (assumes you have it activated on your website).
  3. Registration - If a user registers on your website (assumes your website is using the Ecommerce functionality of the WebFindYou Platform).
  4. Add To Cart - If a user adds an item/product to their shopping cart (assumes your website is using the Ecommerce functionality of the WebFindYou Platform). This is very powerful as it allows you to target particular items within Facebook or Twitter or via other marketing campaigns and then know if people are at least adding them to their shopping cart.

The history of trackable actions captured is available via the WebFindYou Client Administrative Interface for your website. Once you log in you just click on Reports and then Http Referrals Report.

FAQ & Important Notes
Q. How does the Http Referrer Tracking differ from what my Google Analytics reports provide me?
A. Google Analytics allows you to know how people are finding you over the entire population that accesses your website but not via an individual that took action on your website. Google Analytics is a very comprehensive reporting and statistical tool and that's why we have it integrated in the WebFindYou Platform, however it doesn't provide the details to a particular user that has just taken action, and this information is very valuable to have.

Q. Exactly how does the Http Referrer Tracking work?
A. Once a user comes to your website for the first time, we begin to log via a cookie the Http Referrer and the date and time of that access and future access up until the point they take action on the website (fill out a form, register, newsletter signup, or add an item to their shopping cart). The Http Referrer is what stores the referral link that led this person to your website. Within that referral link is pertinent information for example:
  1. If via search engine then what keyword they found you for and if it was via organic or paid search.
  2. If not via a search engine then the referring external website link. For example it could be a Facebook or Twitter link allowing you to know if a particular post, tweet, or retweet generated the lead.
  3. Or, the http referrer could be blank meaning the user accessed your website directly. There are many reasons for this case as shown below:
    • They heard about your website through a traditional marketing method, a friend, or saw a link or advertisement online but instead of clicking on the link to your website they simply typed the URL directly into their browser to access your website. So in this case, when the opportunity permits, you should ask this user how they heard about you.
    • They accessed your website via one computer and then via another computer accessed it directly and in this case it would show direct as well when in reality they heard about you via a search engine or external link (see more below on the question about 100% accuracy).
    • The user took prior action on the website and then took subsequent action on the website in the same session or at some later time (see the reset question below for more information)
A history log is created per user for each date and time of access to the website as well as if they came to the website from a search, external link, or directly. If the user never takes action then you'll never know their access history to your website. Therefore if someone calls you over the phone you can simply request them to fill out your Contact Us form or a special form you create. You can tell them you use it for sales and marketing efforts. Once they fill out that form then you'll have how they heard about you assuming they filled the form out from the same computer they've always used to access your website (see the 100% accurate question below).

Q. How can this information help me with my SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
A. Your Google Analytics reports will tell you how much traffic you're receiving from search engines for each keyword, but it will not tell you which keyword produces more leads or sales. Some keywords will simply produce more leads than others and it's important to know which ones they are. Thus, this Http Referrer Tracking information allows you to measure which keywords are producing the most traffic, leads, and sales for your business since you'll see which keywords cause the most actions (phone call, fill out form, registration, newsletter sign up, add to cart). The add to cart is important because once a purchase is made you can then see for which keyword this person learned about you that then created the purchase.

Q. How can this information help me with my Pay Per Click Campaign or Paid Advertising campaign?
A. Like with SEO, it's important to know which keywords produce sales and not just traffic. Once you know this you can then invest more in the keywords that are generating sales and turn off the keywords that are not. The same goes for your Paid Advertising campaigns, you'll now have the empowering information to know which campaigns are working and which are not ensuring you are maximizing the ROI for every online advertising dollar you spend.

Q. Is the information provided 100% accurate?
A. There are special cases where the information provided may be inaccurate. These cases are highlighted below:
  1. If the user has cookies turned off on their browser then you'll never truly know how they came to know of your website and their history log will show always as "Direct".
  2. If the user uses multiple devices to access your website up until they took action then the information will not be 100% correct. Today, it's not uncommon for someone to have access to multiple devices that they frequently use to access the Internet, for example a laptop, home computer, work computer, ipad, and smart phone. Therefore it's possible that someone found your website via a search engine from one of your prominent keywords but didn't take action on that given moment, but rather later accessed your website directly from a different device and then took action. In this case, you will see that their access history was only direct when in reality that isn't true. There's no way around this case so it's important to understand that when the Http Referrer Log shows "Direct" for a user that it's still possible they heard about you via one of your Internet campaigns (SEO, Social Media, etc).

Q. Is the Http Referrer tracking log ever reset?
A. Yes. Every time a user takes action the tracking log is reset. Thus if a user fills out a form and then later adds an item to their shopping cart then you will only have the original tracking information (the most important) for the first fill out form and the add to cart action will show their subsequent means of accessing the website for each time in the future (and in most cases it will be via the direct method).

If you have questions about the Http Referrer Tracking or simply are interested in the WebFindYou Platform or SEO Services then please contact us.
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