3 Important Tools for Better Link Tracking
Ever decided to go on a spree sharing a specific product or sales page for a campaign you were promoting? You might have shared it across all social media networks, had pop-ups or announcement bars on websites, submitted it to 3rd party listings or websites, and more. BUT...when all is said and done, do you know exactly which of those links were effective? Which ones got clicked on the most?
UTM: Know Where People Are Clicking On Your Links
These days there are tons of places online that we can share our links, and seeing your traffic go up is awesome - until you start wondering which of the 100 places you shared is actually driving that traffic to your website!
For all you know 99% of the traffic is coming from 1 specific location - and knowing this is important, because it tells you you don’t need to bother with those 99 other places for next time (sounds like a time saver!).
UTM parameters are those little extra bits of text that get added to links. Have you ever seen a link that looks something like this?
Everything after the question mark (?) makes up the UTM parameters.
Adding parameters to your links can become time consuming. Let me give you an example. When I am promoting School for Heartful Entrepreneurs membership, I want to know where I’m getting the most click throughs, so I would make unique parameters for almost each distinct instance to be able to track them individually in my Google Analytics. Here is what I mean:
Button on website homepage
CTA at the end of blog posts
Facebook cover image
Facebook Group share
Twitter pinned post
Here is an excellent article from Neil Patel on what exactly UTM parameters are and how to use them strategically.
The key to making this as painless as possible is by using a browser extension that allows you to create presets. My favourite standalone tool is the Google Analytics URL Builder extension for Chrome.
As URL builders have gotten more popular, they have started to offer paid subscriptions and claw back many of the basic features. This particular URL builder allows you to (for free!):
Create unlimited presets with descriptive names
Connect to your Bit.ly account for shortlinks
Link Shorteners: Make Your Links Pretty
Sometimes looks matter.
When I am sharing a link like https://blgbusiness.mykajabi.com/p/systematize-your-business there are a few things that bug me:
It’s not pointing to my domain (blgbusiness.com)
It’s a bit long - especially for Twitter sharing or on printed material
It’s impossible for someone to remember if they just saw it in passing
I’d be happy to be able to turn that link into brandigood.com/SystematizeYourBiz or blgbusiness.com/SystematizeYourBiz
You can create custom domain shortlinks if you are comfortable changing your domain settings (if you mess these up your actual website will be unavailable, but to fix it you just undo whatever you did). If this is something you don’t want to mess with, you can use the service’s default settings, so you would end up with links like bit.ly/SystematizeYourBiz or rebrand.ly/SystematizeYourBiz
Bit.ly became extremely popular with businesses because it was one of the first link shortening services that let you customize the short text to give you something tha
Was a bit more branded;
People could remember, and;
Didn’t look like spam (spammers are notorious for using those random shortlinks to trick you into clicking on things you shouldn’t).
Bit.ly is a great service for anyone starting out, but it's free plan doesn’t include custom domain settings. If you do choose to upgrade to a paid plan, it has some of the most detailed analytics and campaign management features.
Bit.ly has a browser extension, Zapier integration, and in general services involving link sharing (social media schedulers, URL builders) are going to integrate with Bit.ly by default, and everything else second
Rebrandly’s free plan allows you to connect up to 5 custom domains, which is a big bonus if this additional branding is important for your business. It also supports one-click QR code creation for any of the links you create. The analytics that you have access to in their free plan are more detailed than Bit.ly’s free plan (but nowhere near as detailed as Bit.ly’s paid plan!)
Rebrandly is more user-friendly and has a modern interface that isn’t as overwhelming to view as Bit.ly. Rebrandly has a browser extension, Zapier integration, and some other custom integrations that I find useful, such as SocialBee, Revive Old Posts, and Google Sheets.
One of the best features? Rebrandly allows you to build UTM parameters into your branded shortlinks, and you can set up presets!
Link Checker: Know What You Have to Fix
Broken links are a fact of life for website owners these days - things get removed, or moved, and suddenly you have links that lead to nowhere. Or maybe you’ve made some change to your business (like moving web hosts, getting a new domain, etc.) and suddenly a bunch of your old links don’t work anymore.
Most of the time all you can do is stay on top of things and fix them as you find them. From, experience I know how horrifying it can be to have someone reply to a post you sent out letting you know that the link is broken, only to realize that you’ve been sharing that broken link for months without realizing it didn’t work :(
My favourite link checking tool is Dr. Link Check.
Pop your URL into the prompt and let the checker do it’s thing - the more links you have, the longer this will take, so you may want to do that now and then come back to read the rest of this blog post :)
Best free features:
No limit on how many links it will check
It’s user interface is easy to understand
It’s easy to see the types of links that are broken (i.e. text versus image, links inside code, secure vs not secure)
It tells what page the broken link is on so that it’s easy to find and fix
Don’t panic when you see the number of broken links - some of them may not actually be broken. Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Amazon don’t always like external services crawling their websites and so you will get errors like “503 Service unavailable” even though everything is fine.
The most common errors to watch for:
Host not found - this entire domain is gone (the company has rebranded and not set up proper redirect links, or has gone out of business)
400 Bad request - usually the link is good but you’ve added a UTM or tracking parameter that the target server doesn’t like
403 Forbidden - you’ve linked to something that requires a login to access
404 Not found - this specific page is gone or moved
Avoiding broken links provides a better user experience for your visitors, it prevents you from looking unprofessional, and it also keeps your SEO healthy. When Google is looking at your website and it contains a lot of broken links, the conclusion is that your website must be old or out of date, and so it will get bumped down in search results.
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