Keep Your Links Clean

By now you probably already know the power of backlinks. Unfortunately, all-too-often, backlinks are malformed. Use this helpful guide to learn proper backlink etiquette.

Often times, especially via Twitter, people attempt to track their clickthrough rate (CTR) via additional URL parameters that have no actual bearing on location, but rather, serve to pass tracking information to analytics programs like Google Analytics. Unless you specifically receive a request from a webmaster to include campaign tracking parameters, you should strip them out. These additional URL parameters shouldn’t be part of any backlinks because:

1. They skew campaign tracking with false CTR via a different medium

2. It looks sloppy, and is unnecessary

Additional parameters allow advertisers and marketers to gather data that can be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of a campaign. They are used to compile reports that give the number of visits, page views, bounce rates, conversions, etc. Here are the five parameters Google Analytics uses to measure campaigns:

  • utm-medium: designate marketing channel, such as email, paid search, affiliate or offline ads.
  • utm-source: source of traffic for a given channel. For instance, if the medium is affiliate, source could specify Commission Junction or Linkshare.
  • utm-campaign: a value that ties together different channels for a given campaign so that information can be rolled up to the campaign level.
  • utm-content: a way to provide additional data. For instance, for a display ad, you could specify banner size and any special message, like “free shipping”.
  • utm-term: to collect cost data for non-AdWords paid search


Here some examples of URL’s that contain erroneous campaign tracking code — see if you can spot them:




Now, here are those same example URL’s without their campaign tracking code:




See the difference? Here are the erroneous parameters I stripped out:

1. ?source=BlogTwitter

2. ?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

3. ?source=BlogTwitter_[HubSpot%20Ranked%208th%20F]

On rare occasions, there will be parameters that actually do serve a purpose outside of campaign tracking. In those instances, you can usually and strip out the unwanted parameters and leave the rest. Make sure you test the stripped out version in case the URL was inadvertently snipped too short. Over time, it’ll be like second nature to you.


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Copyright 2014 Eric Bank, Freelance Writer

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