Implementing Your Own Solution
If you’ve got the will and the IT firepower, creating your own tracking solution may be
an option you find yourself considering.
How it works
Your own tracking solution will be limited only by your time and pro-
gramming capabilities. We recommend that you start simple: all you really need to
do is count conversions and trace the conversions back to search engine traffic. For
example, we once implemented a basic tracking system for our own employer’s web-
site. It worked like this:
• Every time a visitor came to the website, we set a cookie that recorded the
referring URL, including searched keywords for those that came from search
• Nothing else would happen while the user surfed around the site.
• And then, in the occasional event that the visitor submitted a request for
information form (which was our conversion of choice), the cookie text
was included along with all the other form information submitted directly
Your own solution could include a wide variety of techniques to store important visitor
data, including setting cookies, adding tags to pages on your site, and creating special
tracking URLs. Your choice will depend on your specific needs and abilities.
There are a couple of advantages to building your own tracking system. One
is that it can be customized to your needs and you won’t get bogged down in data
overload. Another is that it eliminates the security and privacy concerns that third-
party systems cause.
If you have relatively few conversions, a basic do-it-yourself system might
be feasible for you. However, the amount of programming you’d have to do to get
close to the flexibility of a third-party solution is probably prohibitively high. As
Anthony Severo told us, “I work with many small companies that start building their
own solution because they can (typically you have a hot shot engineer who takes it on
as a pet project) but then waste that critical engineering resource on something that
they can buy for dollars a month.”
Do you really want to get into the business of building and maintaining a tracking tool
rather than focusing on your core business?
Pearl of Wisdom:
Building your own tracking tool is serious work, so you should seriously con-
sider other options before traveling the do-it-yourself path.
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