This post is split into two sections. The first is for tracking your own internal redirects using Google Analytics. The second portion is for tracing URL redirect paths.
Tracking Redirects with Google Analytics
One of the problems people run into is their inability to track redirects in Google Analytics. For example, let’s say you purchase radio or print ads in order to advertise a product. Rather than simply advertising your domain name (ie (www.yourdomain.com), you may add an easy to remember folder name (ie. www.yourdomain.com/adpage), which redirects to the appropriate product page (which is probably too long and complicated to display on a radio, TV, or print ad).
Let’s say you are advertising the following page via radio ads:
This page actually redirects to the page below
Here are two ways you can track visits and user behavior for people landing on www.yourdomain.com/adpage.
1- Tracking 301 redirects with Google Analytics
Add campaign tracking to your forwarding page. So, on this page:
Rather than 301 redirecting to:
The 301 redirect should actually redirect to:
You will then be able to track the number of times www.yourdomain.com/adpage was visited by looking at your new Campaign (under Traffic Sources) metrics.
Make sure your analytics tracking is on your redirecting page, before the script to run your redirect. So on this page:
Make sure your analytics tracking code appears before your redirect runs. You will then be able to track the number of times www.yourdomain.com/adpage/index.php was visited by looking at your Top Content or Top Landing Pages (under Traffic Sources).
Tracing External URL Redirects
There are several reasons you may want to trace a redirect path or a URL. A faulty URL on your own site may be redirecting several times and you want to see the entire path. You may want to trace the entire path of an affiliate’s URL so see the entire path it’s taking. So here are a few free tools to trace and control redirects while browsing.
My favorite part of this tool is that it will list out entire redirect chain and display the URL that’s setting cookies. In the example below, this was used to expose certain tracking errors.
My favorite part of this tool is that you can enter multiple URLs at once, you can hover over the final 200 status icon and see some basic header information, and most importantly, the redirect source and destination URLs (the URL on the secondary domain) can be exported.
Unlike the other two, this one is a Chrome extension and works by tracing redirect paths of URLs you’ve actually browsed.