Redirects are often used to track the flow of user traffic.This is seen on the Yahoo!home page (http://www.yahoo.com) where many of the navigation links are wrapped by a redirect.For example, the URL for the Sports link ishttp://www.yahoo.com/r/26.Clicking on this link results in a 301 response with theLocationset tohttp://sports.yahoo.com/.The traffic patterns of people leaving Yahoo!’s home page can be discerned by analyzing the web server logs fromwww.yahoo.com.In this case, the number of people leaving to go to Yahoo! Sports is equal to the number of/r/26entries in the logs.
For internal traffic from websites within the same company—it’s
worthwhile to avoid redirects by setting up Referer logging to improve end user response times.If the destination web site belongs to a different company, it might not be possible to analyze the logs for Referers.
An alternative to redirects for outbound traffic is to use abeacon—an HTTP request that contains tracking information in the URL.The tracking information is extracted from the access logs on the beacon web server(s).The beacon response is typically a one-pixel by one-pixel transparent image, although a 204 response is a more elegant
solution because it’s smaller, never cached, and by definition does not alter the state of the browser. In the case of Yahoo! Search, the goal would be to send a beacon whenever the user clicks on a search result link.
when the user navigates to the Sports page from the Yahoo!
home page, the access logs fromsports.yahoo.comcontain a Referer value ofhttp:// www.yahoo.com/.Using Referer logging avoids sending the user through a redirect, thus improving response times.The difficulty with this approach, however, is that for Yahoo! home page to gather statistics on everyone leaving its site, Yahoo! has to analyze the logs of all the destination web sites (Sports, Mail, Calendar, Movies, etc.).