Configuring the Parse.ly Overlay
#Understanding the Parse.ly overlay and slot tracking
The Parse.ly Overlay bookmarklet layers real-time content analytics on top of your site. Users can easily evaluate slot or post performance to optimize click-through rate on homepages, as well as see data on individual posts. Overlay can be configured in two distinct modes; tracking slots, or tracking posts. The post tracking version of Overlay shows analytics like engaged time, referral traffic, and visitors breakdowns for each unique URL linked on the page. With slot tracking enabled homepage editors can see how posts perform in specific positions on the page to optimize click-through rate
#What is "Post Tracking"?
One common use case for our overlay is URL tracking, otherwise known as Post Tracking, which is a tool that customers can use to look at click-through rate for a given article. We have information on how well the post performed as far as click-through rate is concerned. This is still important information for a customer, as it provides insight on how their posts are performing.
#What is "Slot Tracking"?
Slot Tracking allows customers to designate "spaces" on a site that our overlay will track, giving customers the ability to see which areas on their sites (typically a home or index page, but can also be used on list pages) receive the most clicks. This allows customers to better prioritize site real estate such that their most successful "slots" hold the articles that are most important to them, as Slot Tracking compares spots on a webpage against other spots on the webpage, which provides data on which areas on a given page receive the most clicks. A misconception for Slot Tracking is that this is the only use case for the overlay, which is not the case, however it is one of the more powerful use cases for it. But it requires a certain level of involvement, setup, and conceptual synchronization between Parse.ly and the customer to be used effectively.
#How are the two different?
Differentiating between the two requires a change in perspective. If one thinks of "slots" as "keys" on a page, and "posts" as the "value" assigned to each key, then the dichotomy becomes clearer. "Slot Tracking" provides insight on the success of each different "area" on a page regardless of its location on the page, meaning it tracks both the "key" and the "value," while "Post Tracking" gives us information on the success of the specific article. Thus it becomes clear how powerful Slot Tracking is because it will tell the customer not only how well a given article is doing because Post Tracking is part of the analytics of Slot Tracking, but it also can compare how much traffic that specific area of the page does over time, leading to more holistic analytics as each slot on the page can be granularly tracked.
#Why is Slot Tracking More Complicated?
The reason Slot Tracking can compare areas on a webpage against themselves is because it requires that all slots that customers want to compare all have the same slot-ID, as well as the same X-Path inside their HTML. For static websites that do not structurally vary from page to page with respect to their slot setup, this is no problem. We'll be able to track slot performance without issue as long as the relevant slots have the same X-Path.
Where this breaks down is in cases where a site can have multiple different configurations and different content within each configuration. For example, if the same site has two different possible permutations for their homepage, Slot Tracking will fail if the two configurations do not have the same HTML X-Paths. The following sections will break down the most common use cases that we at Parse.ly have found for our Overlay.
#Overlay and Slot Tracking Use Cases
#"I would like to see, at a glance, the success of a given piece of content"
This is a cut-and-dry simple case for just using Post Tracking. There is no comparison needed here between posts that can't be done by simply looking at the traffic for each post, which is made easily available using the Overlay in its most simple form. You can read about the standard overlay in our documentation here
#"The slots (placements) on my page are static and I want to analyze the performance of these slots"
This is a case for using Slot Tracking, and can be implemented easily because the structure of the homepage (i.e. the X-Path that our overlay will look for when comparing slots) will be the same every time.
#"My homepage has a few different permutations, and I would like to compare placements between these versions"
In this case, using Slot Tracking will prove to be difficult, as our Overlay will struggle to compare slots across webpages where the structure of the site is different. There are a couple of ways forward here:
- Setting up Slot Tracking such that it only tracks slots between similar homepages that have the same X-Path configurations, giving the customer comparison data only between homepages that are structured similarly:
- Setting up Slot Tracking such that there are common X-Path elements across homepage permutations, treating each aforementioned "key" as its own entity across permutations so that the Overlay looks for those X-Paths specifically for comparisons. This will require the most work on the part of both Parse.ly and the customer to coordinate this: