URL Cut & Paste: A Big Part of Content Engagement You Might Be Missing

Did you know address bar sharing—that is cutting and pasting an URL rather than sharing the page by clicking a share button—is by far one of the most common ways people share websites? In case you haven’t thought of that, we want you to know you could be missing out on a big part of understanding how visitors engage with your content.


Address bar sharing or cutting/pasting URLs is a sharing method that accounts for up to 90% of some sites’ social traffic.


Knowledge Is Power

In fact, if you just viewed analytics on how many clicks your sharing buttons received, you’re not seeing how many others opted to just cut/paste your URL to share. Understanding this side of how your visitors are sharing can help you get a clearer picture of how your content is engaging your audience.

Copying/cutting and pasting URLs is an effortless way of sharing that is missed by many publishers when looking at their performance numbers, and is often misconstrued in analytics dashboards as “direct traffic.” Your AddThis Analytics, however, breaks this down for you, and shows you how many of your visitors shared that way.

How it Works

You may have noticed a string of signs, letters, and numbers at the end of your pages’ URLs after you’ve installed an AddThis tool. This string of code, though not obvious, is very powerful. It’s our address bar tracking code, and looks like this:

Address bar with code

If you’ve got address bar tracking enabled, which is the default with AddThis, our script generates a unique code each time a user loads a page on your site, and attaches it to the URL in the address bar. Then, when the user copies the address, the code comes along for the ride. So when one of your site visitors posts it—whether they paste it into a Facebook post, or add it to Reddit, or just put it in an instant message to their friend—our code goes with it. Then, we’ll be able to tell you in your Analytics Dashboard how many clicks this share brought back to your site.

This can account for a huge amount of social activity. Check out the data from our own blog:

Lots of shares!

See the giant number of traffic that was brought to our blog post by people who cut/pasted the URL somewhere?

The best part is that it’s an anchor; that means the code is included in the URL after a # (hash) symbol. Search engines ignore code that comes after a # symbol in an URL, which means this code won’t affect your SEO.

What It Means For Your Content Strategy

More engagement! With this information at hand, you’ll get a better idea of how your content strategy is working to increase engagement on your site. For example, if your latest blog post didn’t get a lot of shares to Facebook, yet you see it soared in cut/paste sharing, you’ll know you’re doing something right to increase engagement on your site. That’s what you’re looking for, right?

So while that code might not be attractive, it’s definitely worth letting it hang out on your site. Try it and check the analytics for yourself!

  • Using data_track_addressbar: true will cause duplicate content to trend in the Trending Content social plugin, example: blah dot com#1 blah dot com#2 blah dot com#3 will all trend which makes no sense at all, image if Twitter Trends had the same content trending only with different random values attached. I would suggest publishers not use this tracking feature in conjunction with the Trending Content social plugin or else you’ll have duplicate trends listed causing end-user dissatisfaction. To fix this problem, simply set a rule to merge all random values connected to the same link when displaying them via the Trending Content social plugin. If you’re wondering if what I just said holds true with the Recommended Content Layer, truth is I haven’t had time to test it yet but plan to soon because I always test everything under all conditions as part of my quality assurance process. In other news, it would be nice to allow publishers to display an image and a description in their Trending Content social plugin rather than only allowing publishers to display a title and a link. Links and titles in conjunction with images next to them get 200% more clicks so it’s kind of a big deal and a description really goes a long ways too for increasing clicks. Have a nice day.

  • Thanks for the feedback.

  • You will never believe what just happened here, when I came back to read your comment up above this one I discovered to my surprise the Recommended Content Layer has indeed duplicated the exact same link as the one I’m on right now. This means when end-users click on these duplicate recommended content links it will take them right back to the very exact same page they were just on. It appears AddThis social plugins cannot distinguish the difference between links that are exactly identical except for the random value at the end. As I’m sure you realize this is a simple fix on your end, so no big deal, hope the fix rolls out soon. Until the fix does roll-out for the Recommended Content Layer, Trending Content and anywhere else this anomaly takes place that I’m currently not aware of, I believe I’ll turn my link tracking off as a temporary solution while waiting for the patch. Thanks for all of the great work you and your team do for all of us each day.

  • karak

    good work!

  • Now I understand! Those funny characters used to bother me a lot. Phew, big relief! Thanks a lot!

  • Glad it was helpful!

  • Ngan

    join addthis