Vanity anaytics or “vanalytics” is the placing of your personal calling card into another website’s analytics data.

Direct Referrers in Google Analytics

A direct referrer is usually meant to indicate that your website URL was pasted or typed directly into a browser address bar.  While this is a useful stat, the growth of Twitter has started to skew this data.

Many links that are clicked via desktop applications such as Tweetdeck and Mail, and browser plugins like TwitterFox show up as direct referrers in Google Analytics.

WebTrends Outsider has a good list of reasons for “Direct Traffic” in referrer reports.

Manually Adding Analytics Data to Link

You can manually add query strings to your URL that will provide referrer data to the Google Analytics code in a website page.

For example, when I broadcast a message on Twitter stating that I have a new blog post, I use the following:

New Blog Post: Vanity Analytics http://www.jambrose.ca/vanity-analytics/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=blog RT SVP

This pretty ugly, so I shorten the URL with bit.ly:

New Blog Post: Vanity Analytics http://bit.ly/QuWlH RT SVP

When someone clicks that link, the following is recorded in Google Analytics:

Tweeted Link Tracked in Google Analytics

Creating a Vanalytics URL

Now that you have control over how your referrers are recorded in your Google Analytics, why not spam someone elses?

For example, when I retweet a great Twitter post, I use the following:

RT @TheOnion New Live Poll Allows Pundits To Pander To Viewers In Real Time http://www.theonion.com/content/video/new_live_poll_allows_pundits_to?utm_source=@jaysonambrose&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=retweet Super funny!

Shortened (check out the video, too):

RT @TheOnion New Live Poll Allows Pundits To Pander To Viewers In Real Time http://bit.ly/16kLMW Super funny!

This makes my name appear in Google Analyics for The Onion!

Since The Onion already adds their own query strings to their tweets, I would leave it as a matter of ettiquette.

But if you are just sharing a link with your Twitter followers, why not take some credit for spreading the word?

Of course, there is good chance no one will see your tag on a large website’s analytics, but it might get noticed on a bloggers list.

I admit this is a goofy idea, but I thought it would be fun to coin Vanalytics and Spamalytics!

Can you think of some funny, smart or easter-egg-style Spamalytics?

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