Query String Attributes

What are query string attributes?

Query string attributes are appended to the end of a dynamic URL (as an extra, optional value). It is the portion of a URL where data is passed to a web application and/or back-end database. A query string at the end of a URL for website updates and maintenance is commonly seen with a version number, for example:

www.domain.co.uk/?ver=1.1.1

The question mark here is an optional variable which can be added to an existing URL, for example when a user lands on your web page for the second time and the content is cached locally on their computer. If a file has been updated and the file name version number has also been updated the users web server will only have to go and retrieve your updated query string version; rather than hoping users will clear their cache and needing to reload all files once again.

How else can you use query string attributes?

Query strings transfer information not only for server-side applications but is also used for other tools such as website analytics platforms. For Marketers query string attributes are used to retrieve information about traffic/marketing sources and specific campaigns so that their success can be gauged. This is an example of a typical marketing URL using query string attributes:

www.domain.co.uk/page/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sale50

Breaking this down…

  • The Identifier in the URL is: ?
  • The Connector for any additional parameter after an identifier (?) has been used is: &
  • Key-Value Pair is the information contained within the query string. These are known as ‘parameters’:
    • In the above example URL the Keys are: utm_source, utm_medium and utm_campaign
    • The = separates the Keys from the Values
    • The Values are after the = which is in this example is newsletter, email and sale50

How can you use query string attributes with Webtrends Optimize?

Using Webtrends optimize you can change or update what customers see on a web page depending on the query string attributes which are appended.

For example; if within the query string attributes we saw: utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=past

Instead of sending the customer to the generic PPC landing page we may send them to a version of the page that is more tailored to ‘past customers’. You could then provide these customers with a more targeted experience based on what you know about how regular customers interact with your website as opposed to first time visitors, with the hope that this may make them more inclined to complete the KPI or conversion on the page.

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