Reverse proxy method: Best suited for local advertisers
With the reverse proxy method, instead of web requests going directly to an advertiser’s website, the user request is routed to an intermediary server which determines what content should be displayed. This proxy retrieves the content from the advertiser’s website and transforms the output by inserting and/or replacing specific phone numbers on the page with call tracking numbers based on keyword or search engine triggers. This is done via cached copies of an advertiser’s website or in some cases, in real-time, for every request through the proxy so that any dynamic content included on the advertiser’s page is reflected ensuring that data is always current and up-to-date.
As reverse proxy capability is more readily available from SEM or other third party resellers, this approach is very effective for local advertisers or SMBs that do not have sophisticated internal technology resources easily available to make modifications to their existing websites. However, because a service provider is involved, it is typically more expensive. Also, reverse proxy is a better option for advertisers that use third party website functionality for shopping carts or email forms.
A disadvantage of the reverse proxy method is that it is not well suited for tracking organic search activity. Reverse proxy sites are invisible to search engine spiders, so organic searchers would never reach a reverse proxy site and online organic search activity is not captured. Also, larger advertisers with complex websites that are considering this approach should ask the reseller about their reverse proxy method as some require the advertiser to share control of the websites as they continuously make duplicate or updated copies of the page. This “carbon copy” approach would be a complication for advertiser sites that include real-time data such as news feeds, RSS or stock quotes, as it risks serving static or old data.
Since the coding is performed client-side, this method requires HTML design and maintenance expertise—something typical SMBs lack. It is best suited for larger, national advertisers with committed monetary and technology resources or which have access to specialized agency resources that can perform such maintenance.
The overall benefits of DNI—through either method—are simple: DNI provides advertisers greater visibility to the source of inbound calls and allows advertisers to track the performance of specific ads and/or keywords. With the ability to capture the full value of online advertising initiatives adding call counts to the traditional click count approach to online campaign performance, advertisers can optimize their spend and move underperforming keyword-search engine ad buys to more successful combinations.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.