Monday, March 07, 2005

Measuring The Value of PPC Traffic

When it comes to Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, you should know as much as possible about the people who click on your ads. What day, and what time of day did they click on the ad? What search terms did they use? For contextual ads, what web site (and page) did they come from? Information such as this is available to you in a variety of ways.

1) If you do not have many landing pages, you can find this information in the logs of the machine hosting your web site. However, reading logs directly is not practical, so you will need software, such as Web Trends, that reads and organizes the log information.

2) There is also software that will collect, organize and neatly present to you visitor and tracking information about your PPC visitors.

3) This article is about a third option. The do-it-yourself option.

No matter what method you use to compile information about your PPC visitors, each PPC ad should have its own landing page. This allows you to individually track the performance of each ad.

My adding a little bit of PHP code to each landing page, and renaming the web page so that it has a filename extension of .PHP instead of .HTML, you’ll have a text file listing the key information about each visitor.

Logging PPC visitors.

In the above example the filename that will be used to store the information is "google-landing-page.txt". Change this name to be unique for each landing page.

The above will save the date and time the person arrived at the landing page; their hosting company; and the URL they came from. This URL will include the search terms they used, if they are coming from a search results page.

You’ll probably also want to know which clicks resulted in a sale or other desired action on the part of the visitor. Including the following code on the thank you page that appears when the visitor buys something, will log that information. (In this case the thank you page is in the same folder as the landing page.)

Logging PPC results.

The above will show in the text file as a "SALE". It will give the date, time and identify the visitor’s hosting company. This will allow you to link them with the log information recorded when they arrived on the landing page. Thus you’ll be able see which search terms and contextual ads are generating the most sales.


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