Download tracking revisited

Posted on April 15th, 2011

After my recent post about Google Analytics not tracking downloads accurately, I had decided to go back to counting download using a weblog parsing method. After some consideration, and the suggestion of a colleague who tracks downloads using Google Analytics himself, I’ve decided not to use that method.

The reasoning behind it, is Goal tracking in Google Analytics lets me see what traffic sources(sites and keywords) are converting best. I lose this very important marketing feature if I use the web log tracking method. Being able to track my marketing methods for Overseer Network Monitor and Employee Scheduling Pro is far more important than seeking 100% accuracy for this number.

As an alternative, I’m using a download redirect option. Now on my software websites, a user will go to the ‘download’ page to view the links to download, and click the appropriate link to download the file. This takes them to a “your download will start now” page, at which point it uses a meta http-refresh to start the download. This should work with GA better to track the downloads. I have a funnel setup to require the end user to go to the download page before the downloading page, and set a noindex meta tag on the downloading page to try to prevent Google traffic being sent directly to this page.


Google Analytics Tracking of Downloads DOES NOT WORK RELIABLY

Posted on April 1st, 2011

About a month ago I switched to using Google Analytics. I was previously using Urchin for web analytics, and had accepted that it simply didn’t work for tracking goals, etc.(I reported this to Urchin and they refused to acknowledge it). When I switched to Google Analytics, I setup goals for tracking downloads of my Network and System Monitoring Software. This seemed to work, and replaced my weblog analysis that counted the downloads for conversion tracking.

This past Friday, I launched my Employee Scheduling Software and setup goal/download tracking the same exact way. I downloaded it a few times, and it never showed up in Google Analytics as a conversion– or as content. I analyzed what could be wrong, and found that everything was setup perfectly.

So, being a software developer, I loaded my download page up in Chrome and turned on the Javascript console. I found that when clicking the download links, it would come up with an “undefined” error, yet still allow the download to take place. With some experimentation, I found that the tracking code always fails when linking to a binary/downloadable file, but works for linking to pages… Of course, that doesn’t work for me, as I need to track downloading of files… I couldn’t find any solutions online, and I tried multiple different ways to track the downloads with GA… It appears to be browser specific(with Chrome), which is why the problem was masked with Overseer downloads… But this  just makes it clear to me that I can’t trust Google’s numbers…

So, it looks like I’ll be switching back to tracking downloads from my logs… The plus side of this, is I can go back historically and won’t be limited by GA’s lack of data, lack of Javascript support on some browsers, etc… The problem is I won’t be able to see ‘goals’ inside GA’s interface… I suppose there’s worse things.


The negative of using multiple monitors

Posted on March 18th, 2011

Using multiple monitors is great. Personally, I use 4 large 23″ widescreen LCDs on Ergotron arms. This works amazingly well, and my productivity is improved considerably by using them. I’m able to have multiple copies of Visual Studio 2010 running, and sometimes even lay them out side by side. I also have a browser on one screen, Email on another, spreadsheets for tracking misc. info shared on another, etc.

The big problem with this, comes when I’ve been couped up all winter, and spring hits… The last couple days have been a “false spring” with 60º+ weather(quite pleasant for Rochester, NY). I would love to be able to sit out on my deck and work on my laptop… The problem with that, is I’d have to make due with only one 17″ screen. That means going from 976 square inches of desktop space to around 129 square inches… That’s losing 86.8% of my desktop!

The only solution I can think of(until multiple screen laptops are a feasible reality), is finding a single task that I can do on a single screen, and simply tolerate a longer turn-around for Email responses(considering I can’t monitor it as well), etc… Unfortunately, I can’t always find such simple tasks, particularly that need to be done when the weather is nice…


Blogging is silly

Posted on February 20th, 2011

“Blogging is silly”

“No one wants to read that”

“That’s obvious– why would anyone need to read that”

“That’s just stupid to blog about”

These kind of ideas always fill my head when I think about the next thing to write a blog post about. They always have– which is the primary reason I haven’t blogged in years.  A friend of mine recently shared with me the great success he’s had with his products, and he contributes a lot of it to the blogs on his websites, along with some other SEO efforts. Considering I’ve done a lot of similar things with less success, I have to believe that the blogging made the difference.

The bottom line, is every blog entry won’t be a piece of invaluable information. It may not change anyone’s lives or even solve anyone’s problems– but building blog content and linking to appropriate pages on my own site and others should help in the long term. And there’s nothing silly or stupid about the success that my friend has had blogging about his software releases, etc.