Arin Adamson
By Arin Adamson | Web Dev | February 1, 2016

Third Party Services and APIs

APIs API callsAs businesses and the internet become more integrated and reliant on one another, integration of third party services, which provide valuable data and services, becomes more and more important. Many third party services integrate the service directly the client website, all without having to direct  users to the third party’s website in a separate window. This creates a seamless user experience for websites, increasingly important in today’s internet driven society. How do third parties get access and transmit data to make sure the process is so smooth? They use a tool called an API.

An API is essentially a script that passes data and functionality to your website. No API can create a slower, less positive user experience. One API alternative is just to link to a third party service’s website. However, sending traffic to a third party website can cause your users to believe they have gone to the wrong place (especially if it’s not branded to your website). On the business end, tracking conversions and analytics can sometimes be skewed by sending users to a third party website. The goal for every website should be to keep a user on your domain for as long as possible.

Another alternative is iframed content. Iframes are HTML containers, which make an HTTP request to a specified URL, pulling the URL’s entire HTML document into the iframe container. The content that is pulled into the iframe is not considered by search engines to be content on your web page. So if your whole website is a collection of iframes, the search engines will not consider your website to have much value. Also just as with linking and sending traffic to a third party website, analytical data and conversion tracking can be skewed. In fact, conversion tracking on iframes can sometimes be impossible, unless configured properly by the third party service.

Using an API also allows you to build your own applications and functionalities around the third party service. Typically, using an API means the scale at which you can integrate a third party website into your website or web application is limitless. If you can dream it, your can most likely build it. The downside is that APIs often take longer to integrate into a website than the alternative options. For a business this means more money, which sometimes is not available. However, if you have the funds and want to create the ultimate online experience for your users, using an API for any third party services is a must.

Integrating an API into your website is relatively easy, but is not always as simple as an iframe or external link (usually just copy/paste). API integration involves the use of server-side and/or client-side coding, which makes a request to a URL with ‘get’ parameters (often including a provided API token or access key). API implementation methods can vary depending on what type of API you are using. A majority of APIs will respond with JSON or XML containing the data that was requested from the third party service. With these types of APIs it’s common that you can also send XML and JSON to the third party service, which is useful in cases where you are making transactions, booking events, or saving any type of data to the third party’s database. Other APIs, such as Google Maps JavaScript API, first require you to load their JavaScript library. After the library is loaded, you can customize and configure the library as much as the service provider has intended. Because each API is so different and contain their own methods of passing XML, JSON or JavaScript libraries, review the documentation of each API to understand how to integrate it into your website.

If you are still using old methods like iframes or linking to those third party websites, consider transitioning over to APIs. It increases the SEO value of your website by creating a seamless user experience and getting all the valuable unique content onto your domain. It also makes your website look much more professional, which gives your users more confidence that you are the website they should be using.

background dots

Related Topics

5 SEO & Paid Media Strategies To Learn From Your Competitors

by Keith Newsham

Additional Contributors for this piece: Kim Brown, DRA Paid Media Strategist Looking for new sources of organic traffic? Of course you are! How…

Brand Consistency: The Secret Ingredient to Successful Paid Search

by Natalie Hanes

Branding is one of those nebulous, mystical terms. With its unintuitive metrics and nontactical strategies, branding is an integral thing that often gets…

Building an Account Funnel for ABM

by Andrew Seidman

With any campaign, proving success with clear reports is a critical feature. This is especially true for account based marketing campaigns, but there’s…

In the time it takes to read this sentence, you could be on your way to a well-oiled demand generation machine. Ready for your blueprint?

yes, i want my Digital blueprint