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Web Site Measurement Hacks by Eric T. Peterson

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Hack #42. Measure Paid Search Engine Marketing

Paid search marketing is one of the most popular marketing acquisition strategies in recent years, primarily because its effects are so easily measured. Taking the time to understand the "what" and "how" of search marketing can dramatically improve your return on investment for search keywords.

Paid search engine marketing can be measured and evaluated by simply modifying your click-through URLs to identify incoming paid traffic from popular pay-per-click engines like Google and Overture. Using your web measurement application, you can then segment those visitors for further analysis and profits—which, considering estimates that keyword costs will rise 30 percent between now and 2009, are worthy indeed.

How to Identify Paid Search Traffic

Different levels of tagging will yield small, medium, and large amounts of data. Whichever method you choose determines the amount of intelligence you can gather about your paid search marketing.

Low data gathering strategy.

The overall big picture view of paid search is simply the identification of your traffic as originating from paid search. This can be done with a single query name/value pair on the end of all incoming paid search traffic. If there isn't already a query name/value pair, just add ?source=paid to your landing page URL:

http://www.mysite.com/landingpage.htm?source=paid

This segments your data into two distinct groups—paid versus organic. The amount of information that you gather from this ...

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