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Integrating Feedburner and Google Analytics

In mid-November, Google Analytics and Feedburner announced a very interesting integration. While this is excellent news for Google Analytics and Feedburner users, it must be dealt properly when it comes to SEO, especially on websites that are heavily based on RSS feeds.

Google Analytics users rejoice!

This integration is very interesting in that it allows a much deeper understanding of the interaction of users coming from feeds and the profitability of this segment on websites. So, which level of granularity can be achieved through this integration? Which parameters get added?

As can be seen in the screenshot below (from Online Behavior website), we are able to use five UTM parameters as used in the URL builder. And for each we can either use a static or a dynamic parameter. The five parameters are:

  • utm_source: Identifies the referrer (e.g. google, searchengineland.com, newsletter)
  • utm_medium:: Identifies the marketing medium (e.g. organic, CPC, banner, email)
  • utm_campaign: Identifies the campaign that is being run in the referrer
  • utm_content: Used to differentiate ads or links inside a campaign
  • utm_term: Used to differentiate the keywords clicked

And the dynamic variables that can be used for each of the parameters are:

  • ${feedUri}: The feed URI
  • ${feedName}: The feed name
  • ${distributionChannel}: The channel in which the feed is distributed
  • ${distributionEndpoint}: The application where a click request originates

Customize Feedburner Stats

How SEOs should deal with the change

First of al, Feedburner made it very easy to deal with the change. According to the announcement post:

If you have item click tracking enabled, we are now automatically tagging your item URLs with Google Analytics parameters. If you’re not using Google Analytics, or for some other reason don’t want these parameters in the requests coming to your website, you can turn off Google Analytics tracking on the “Configure Stats” page on the Analyze tab at http://feedburner.google.com.

But if you do want to keep tracking feedburner info on Google Analytics, you have two options to account for SEO while tracking with Google Analytics.

The easiest way is to have all your links using the “#” sign on your campaign tracking. This can be done on Feedburner by going to the Analyze tab, clicking the “configure stats” menu and ticking the “Track clicks as a traffic source in Google Analytics” check box. This must come together with the addition of a Google Analytics function called _setAllowAnchor(). This way Google Search will not index your URLs containing the tracking parameters.

Another way to account for SEO is to make a few simple changes to your Google Webmaster Tools settings so that the tracking parameters do not affect your SEO. Query parameters are added to the destination URL when the visitor accesses the website through Feedburner. This means that people can now share these links on their blogs, and search crawlers could crawl these pages. This will consequently index these pages in addition to the clean URL. The solution can be easily handled by using canonical URL tags or through Webmaster Tools (Site configuration=>Settings=>Parameter handling) as seen on the screenhot below:

Webmaster Parameter Handling

Search marketing should be viewed as a conglomerate of variables, where SEO, paid campaigns and Web Analytics are intertwined. Each effort to optimize a website should strengthen all others to increase synergy and boost revenues.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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