If you read a lot of blogs, you may notice that links on those blogs sometimes contain utm_ tokens after the web address they point to. You find this usually if another blog is listed as the source, but may encounter utm tracking links in other situations as well. If you open Google Reader or your feed reader of choice, you may notice that many of the feeds that you are subscribed to use these utm_ tracking values.
These are generated by the Urchin Traffic Monitor which services like Feedburner make use of to provide webmasters with additional traffic related information.
Internet users may have two issues with these tracking tokens. They first increase the size of the web address significantly, often by more than double the stripped down size. If you want to post the link on a social networking site for instance, you may prefer to display a cleaner link, especially since some users may be deterred by the tracking added to the url.
Take a link like this one, pointing to one of the latest articles on Addictive Tips:
More than half of that link is created by Feedburner, and not necessary to open the web page in the browser of choice.
You can strip the url of the tracking tokens manually if you are a webmaster, but if you are a user who wants to visit a site, it is not really that feasible. While you could copy the web address, paste it into the browser's address, bar, remove all utm_ parameters, before loading the website that you want to visit, it is to time consuming and likely that you will forget to do this from time to time.
Update: The user script is no longer working. We have removed the link to it as a consequence. The browser extensions listed below however seem to work just fine.
UTM-Remover is a userscript that removes UTM information from links that you open in the browser automatically. All you need to do is install the script, after which it will start doing its magic in the background without your doing. The developer notes that the script is configured to run on all Internet sites by default, and asks users to change that if they prefer to use it only for select sites.
Please note that the site is opened first, and that the tokens are removed afterwards, which means that the tracking itself is still taking place. The userscript does however remove the tracking parameters from links posted on a website.
Firefox users can install au-revoir-utm instead, which seems to work faster than the userscript. It still seems to load the tracking url first though, before it strips it off any utm_ tags. The extension has been criticized for not working on pages that do not start with ?after the original address, and that all tags, and not just utm parameters are stripped by it.
Google Chrome users finally can install Tracking Token Stripper, which too strips the tokens after the page has loaded. (thanks Vineeth for the tip)
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.