The blogosphere is quite excited with the fact that Twitter is directing a lot of traffic to blogs & websites. But no one has been able to conclusively measure that traffic. Fred Wilson, struggled to interpret the data from Google Analytics and measure exactly how much traffic came from Twitter. Meanwhile Danny Sullivian, ran his own experiment by tweeting a short link containing a tracking code and seeing how much bit.ly reported against Google Analytics report and his own server logs. The results seemed quite good but the experiment itself was not yet perfect. Bit.ly’s link counting is inherently flawed as I’ve explained in my previous blog.
It is somewhat surprising to me that after having Google Analytics for so long all of us are still struggling to measure correctly a specific channel of traffic to our site. As I have been working with several email marketing tools these last fews a simple solution struck me. I was quite struck by the simplicity of the solution and was wondered anyone has thought of it before? I’d urge readers (not you mom) including Danny and Fred try out this little experiment on their blog and see if they can quantify the exact amount of traffic coming in through Twitter (or bit.ly).
This blog does not get a lot of traffic (yet), so the numbers may not make good sense. But if high traffic bloggers such as Danny or Fred Wilson use this little experiment on their blog, it would be worth seeing what the results are like.
This should also give Bit.ly some ideas on how to accurately measure link views and discard the requestes for only a link lookup. The solution may be involved as the user would have to embed a shortened link to a tracking image, but it should be ok if the user is really motivatedand wants to measure his traffic. Or better still, similar to Google Analytics, ask users to embed a small piece of code in the blog entry that they want to track. This code can be as generic as follows
When the browser makes a request for this image as part of loading the blog entry, the HTTP_REFERER should identify the permalink of the blog entry for which the request is being made. Just increment the counter for that permalink and you are done. I’d love to hear from others who have tried something along these lines and the results you see if you try this image embedding with a bit.ly link.