Friday, 28 November 2014 00:00

Tracking Google Plus Post Engagement

Tracking Google Plus Post Engagement Through The Implementation of Query Strings. This may sound like a mouthful but hopefully this brief Blog entry will help you get to the bottom of it.

Tracking social media engagement through Google Analytics is nothing new. It's been around for a while and we'd expect it to perform in the same way that regular everyday Analytics performs but it doesn't.

First, The Problem...

Firstly we need to clarify a few basic definitions. Referrer for example means the page that has referred a visitor to your website, in this case our Blog area. Link simply means the link used and query string means the part of the link that starts with a "?" (question mark). We need to have a clear understanding of these and their significance before we go on though.

Referrer

A referrer may well be a website you have no knowledge of, perhaps someone placed a link to your website on another website without your knowledge but ultimately this is where traffic comes from to get to your website (in the confines of this article we will be focusing on referrers and no other means of traffic).

Link

The link, typically would look something like this: http://www.whatnowebsite.co.uk/blog but we're going to add a little something for the visitor in the form of a query string (coming up) that will help us track the traffic and the source right down to the individual Google Plus post that was created.

Visitor

The visitor is clearly the person coming to the website and for this article we're be assuming it's a human visitor and not a search engine crawler or bot.

Query String

Now the interesting part, the query string. What we need to understand is that we can create our own on the fly, no coding or programming knowledge is required. You simply need to use the query string in a way that you yourself can understand.

For example, for this post we'll be using the query string "Visitor=GooglePlus", that way we know that the visitor to this Blog article, if they clicked a link there, will have come from Google Plus and no other network.

Putting It All Together

Dropping a query string in to a link is actually surprisingly simple. Normally these query strings would be used by code hidden on the page to execute a specific task such as "display day of week" or "Say Hi to visitor if from Google". In this case we simply want to have that query string pass through to Google Analytics for later measurement so we create the following string:

http://www.whatnowebsite.co.uk/seo/tracking-google-plus-post-engagement?Visitor=GooglePlus

Clearly the page itself can be found through Google normally if someone was to search for "Tracking Google Plus Post Engagement" or by simply browing through our Blog area but that link will contain a query string specific to Google Plus visitors so unless the exact link is copied and pasted elsewhere we will know where our traffic comes from.

Measuring The Results

As mentioned above, Google Analytics provides details of social engagement but for Google Plus this only goes as deep as the base URL "https://plus.google.com" but we wanted a method that tracked individual posts.

Using the link above we can do this easily. All we do is use the link in Google Plus and then a day later the results will be available in Google Analytics.

To fond the results simply go to your Analytics page and navigate to "Acquisition // Social // Network Referrals" and you will see the "Shared URL". This shared URL will contain the query string with number of visits to the right.

Limitations

The only limitation I can see with this method is that is does not track shared posts individually so if you create a post with a link that contains a query string then when that post is shared so is the tracking link with the query string and it is not possible to track the shared post seperately.

Further research will be done so feel free to comment against the original post in Google (below) or get in touch if you have anything you'd like to discuss regarding advanced SEO and user tracking.



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Last modified on Friday, 11 December 2015 12:45

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