Your Google tracking parameters are an eye-sore

My Tidy URL bookmarklet helps me strip Google link tracking parameters from the links I share. The following is an old man rant on rubbish in our streets URLs.

If you are spending money on advertising you want to know you’re not wasting your money. Or as Google puts it:

Tagging your online ads is an important prerequisite to allowing Google Analytics to show you which marketing activities are really paying off.

from Google Analytics Help - How do I tag my links?

When you ‘tag’ a link you essentially add parameters to the end of the URL. Usually this extension to your links means nothing to your web server or how your website works. Instead it is there purely for the benefit of the Google Analytics JavaScript running in the background. Tracking the comings and goings on your site.

Why is it then, as an infrequent ad clicker, am I seeing these tracking codes in the location bar of my browser everyday?

As someone who still enjoys their RSS feeds the biggest source of URL rubbish is Feedburner. Site authors who see their blogs as a form of advertising use Feedburner to track visits to their site. Click a link in their RSS feed and they get a report item in Google Analytics as they do for tracked banner ad clicks.

The second most common source of Google link cruft is… pretty much everywhere links are shared. Emailed from friends or from Twitter – at least once the URL has finished redirecting through a number of link ‘shortening’ services.

In the good old days, before these link shorteners were in vogue (let alone built into Twitter) it would be necessary to include links in our tweets looking lean and clean. If the URL was too lengthy there would be no space for the accompanying smart arse remark. Around the same time including ‘www.’ in your hrefs was uncool and the appearance of ‘.html’ or ‘.php’ in your links marked you out a dinosaur.

Kids these days either don’t give a damn about URL littering, or are so seduced by the flow of intoxicating information flowing into Google Analytics they don’t notice their once trim links are looking saggy around the edges.