Google's URL Builder provides marketers and website owners the ability to see inbound traffic from specific marketing efforts and channels. It provides organization and structure to your reporting, which enables greater insight into your marketing campaigns and empowers your decision making abilities.
The tracking parameters generated and provided in the Google URL Builder will be displayed and reported on in your Google Analytics account.
Google Analytics is one of the most powerful and free analytics packages available to website owners. See our article for more in-depth information about Google analytics and how to implement without any coding background, in less than an hour.
There are five parameters that can be reported on, three of which are required. These parameters get appended to the end of your URL and are captured by Google when visitors land on any of the pages of your website that are set up with Google Analytics.
|Campaign Source||utm_source=||Yes||google, bing, newsletter, facebook, etc...||This is used to identify the channel provider driving the traffic|
|Campaign Medium||utm_medium=||Yes||ppc, display, email, social, news, etc...||This is the high level categorization of marketing traffic type, from the campaign provider|
|Campaign Name||utm_name=||Yes||brand, post, tweet, article, promotion, etc...||This is the specific name of the marketing initiative underway|
|Campaign Term||utm_term=||No||may-newsletter, url-post, holiday-sale, black-shirt, pr-release, etc...||This is used to differentiate between keywords or phrases|
|Campaign Content||utm_content=||No||blue, horizontal, animated, text, dynamic, etc...||This is used to characterize between specific ads|
Example of full URL:
Important URL character information:
The character used to differentiate between your domain URL and tracking parameters is the "?". However, in the event that your URL contains a "?" in its file convention, you must use an "&" to denote where the URL ends and where the tracking parameters begin.
If you use two "&", one in the URL and one to signal where the tracking parameters begin, then either your link can break and send your user to a dead page, or Google Analytics may miss or add incorrect parameters in your reporting.
Below is an example of a URL that contains a "?" in the URL and how to use a "&" to mark where the tracking parameters begin:
Parameter naming conventions:
It's often best practice to remain consistent when populating your URL tracking parameters. This consistency will be beneficial when aggregating and evaluating your website data over the course of time. If naming conventions differ for the same traffic source, say "utm_source=msn" versus "utm_source=bing", then your data won't be rolled up into one line item when reporting in your Google Analytics.
Lastly, when multiple people, teams or departments within your organization are creating URL tracking links, it's best to have a spreadsheet for referencing naming conventions and formatting. The same spreadsheet can be used for detailing and referencing these tracking links in the future or for cross-functional review. The main parameters to keep consistent are: Campaign Source and Campaign Medium, the others can be unique within the reports.
Because adding tracking parameters to your URL can significantly increase their length and make them aesthetically unpleasant, we always recommend using URL shorteners.
URL shorteners make long URLs, which can be hundreds of characters in length, into as few as 14 characters. Most of these URL shortener services are free and provide free report tracking; this can be an additional point of reference for your reporting needs.
Google and Bit.ly offer some of the best resources for these tools and provide trusted report tracking:
Example of Shortened URLs:
205 Characters with tracking parameters:
21 Characters with URL Shortening:
♦♦ Click through the links above and see how you land on the same page, with the same tracking parameters in the URL
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