“Copy Link Location” is Ruining Analytics

direct click new tab link analytics

You know you do it. You’re one of “those” people.

You don’t click on links.

You don’t trust links.

You stopped trusting links in 2006.

Instead of just left clicking on a link, you hover over it, check it out, and then right click “copy link location” and open it up in a new tab.

Don’t you!

Ok, so do I.

Why is it that we do this?

Savvy (and distrusting) people such as ourselves have been burned by links in the past. We don’t like to be tracked. We are SEO’s, so we don’t like people (analytics) to know where we are coming from or who we are, or what we are doing on their site.

For me, it is always something I have done. I’ve been a hard core “netizen” since probably 1995 and before that active on dialup BBS’s. So I am very used to copying and pasting things into new windows.

Is it Because We Are Traumatized?

I know I am. How many people reading this have been unfortunate to have been “victimized” by a childish prank where you click on a seemingly innocent URL, only for (porn/something scary/disgusting/startling) to open?

I know it has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit.

But this is just one of the many reasons.

Control

I want to have cont… absolutely need to have control over my browsing experience. That means that “open in a new tab” is not good enough for me. I need to open my own tab, paste the copied link, and enter it in manually.

How Many of Us Are There?

Well, I can tell you on an average day anywhere from 25-50% of the people that visit this site are marked as “direct entry” from our analytics. Now, I know that this can mean a number of things but I am also very good at spotting patterns and know that more and more people “copy link location” and open in a new tab.

I would really like to learn more about these numbers, but it is really kind of a mystery.

Here is a quick snapshot of our traffic from a few days ago:

direct traffic overview

In other words we have no idea where approximately 30% of our traffic came from. While some apps such as “tweet deck” and other mail clients show up as direct, my theory is that many people are copying links and opening them up in new tabs as well.

“Not Provided” + Direct Traffic = Lots of Confusion

Not going to lie, “not provided” really shook me to the core in a major way. “not provided” coupled with an increase of direct traffic has really left some holes in our analytics on a global level.

Coping with this has not been easy. Sure, there are some ways we can decipher this anonymous traffic. There are also ways we can implement better campaign tracking to keep track of “direct” traffic but it has not been easy.

In the next few months, I am going to talk to more people about this, and possibly run a survey to see how many people exhibit this type of browsing behavior.

What a fun thesis this would have been in college!

Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe is the founder and CEO of Elite Strategies Llc. Patrick takes a hands on approach to managing Elite Strategies and loves to get involved with technical projects relating to clients inbound marketing needs.
Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe
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