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I have been part of a push to implement better analytics on our company's web site over the last few months using Google Analytics. One request that has come in is for the ability to see clicks to outbound links (such as those to our Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc.) in the GA In-Page Analytics report.

From my research, it looks like the only way to do this is by first redirecting the outbound link to an intermediate page, which will then immediately redirect to the external site (this is ASP.NET, so probably through Response.Redirect or something similar). For example, we would change our current Facebook link from facebook.com/ourcompanypage to something like (our company website).com/redirect.aspx?url=facebook.com/ourcompanypage. This way, to Google Analytics it will look like the person went to an internal page which will then appear in the In-Page analytics report.

What I would like to know is if there are any potential issues using a redirect like this may raise, for example on things like SEO or usability?

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There are other ways to do what you want without using a redirect page in the answers to this: webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/7729/… –  paulmorriss Oct 7 '11 at 16:26
    
@pualmorriss thanks, but it looks like the linked question is just dealing with event tracking. We do have event tracking implemented for the external links, but unfortunately this doesn't allow the links to show up on the In-Page report. –  Andrew Oct 7 '11 at 17:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

SEO. The linked sites may not receive full PageRank from a redirect URL. Some SEOs believe there is evidence that sites which link out to other parts of the web are viewed more approvingly by Google than sites that do not link out to anyone, so there could be a slight negative value to keeping all of your links inside.

Usability. In addition to the slight time delay, a redirect URL makes it harder for the person to see where they are going by preveiwing the URL in the status bar, so they may be less likely to click.

Security. This is only a minor issue, but allowing a redirect from your own website makes it possible for malicious users to give someone a URL like "www.yoursite.com/redirect.aspx=fhdfweelkjelkfj.com" which could take a user to a malicious website while appearing to have your safe address on it, unless you are very selective about how your redirect works.

Also, as mentioned by other users there are alternatives to tracking these metrics. As far as your Facebook page goes, it has its own tracking through View Insights where you can see your referrals. And of course there are ways to use javascript for more complete solutions.

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I believe you're incorrect about redirects not passing any PageRank. Last I checked 301 redirects were suspected to pass on 90-99% of link juice (source). They must pass on a good amount, otherwise URL shorteners would be toast! –  evanrmurphy Feb 1 '13 at 8:38
    
@evanrmurphy You are correct, I have adjusted my answer. I knew that was true for links from Domain A to Domain B redirected to a different page on Domain B. I guess somehow it didn't click that this would be also be true for links from Domain A to Domain A redirected to a page on Domain B. –  joshuahedlund Feb 1 '13 at 15:26

There would be 2 primary side-effects:

  1. Loss of PageRank value to the linked web site.
  2. Slower speeds because of the unnecessary middle step. (minor)

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For the PageRank value, Google sees these outbound link and confers some amount of SEO value to the linked web site. If, on the other hand, you're merely linking to yourself and that link redirects to another web site, then it will receive less value from the link.

If you're going to do a redirect it's probably better to use a 301 redirect (known as a Permanent Redirect) than a 302 redirect (a Temporary Redirect). Using a 301 redirect it's possible that Google will still confer PageRank value to the outbound link.

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However, Paul is correct in his comment. It would be better to use Javascript and event tracking. This is also the method that Google recommends:

http://www.google.com/support/analytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55527

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