Do you already understand what UTM Link Tracking is?
Click here to see how I structure my links
Are you an author?
We share what we find useful or entertaining.
Online, this information is on a page and to get to that page we need a page location.
For example, if you are viewing this page on your computer, the page location to find this article again is:
If you were to copy and paste this page location into a Facebook post or into your email message telling someone to check out a story then you just linked to my page.
Why Should I Care?
Have you ever wondered if anyone has clicked on a link you sent?
I know that everyone who has a blog or an ecommerce website asks themselves that on a regular basis.
That is because they might have sent out an email newsletter the night before and want to know:
How many people opened that message?
Did they click on anything inside the message?
How many sales resulted from those clicks?
If you don’t track your links, this can be a complete mystery.
Tracking Links Can Be Done 3 Ways
First, let’s find out what you want to learn from that link and that will help us determine one of three methods to use:
Method 1: Shortener
Let’s say that you want to learn how many people clicked on a link and on what days they clicked on it.
This would be a perfect use for Method 1: Shortener. Click here to skip ahead.
Method 2: UTM Parameters
Let’s say that you want to to know as much as you can about a link. You will want to use Method 2: UTM Parameters. Click here to skip ahead.
Method 3: Shortener + UTM Parameters
Let’s say that you want to to know as much as you can about a link, but you also want to have the link appear short. Then you will want to use Method 1 & Method 2: Shortener + UTM Parameters. Click here to skip ahead.
Method 1: Use a URL Shortener
A URL Shortener can transform a link from something that looks like this:
To something that looks like this:
This became really important when Twitter only allowed 144 characters. So, every letter you included in your message had to be important.
Rebrandly or Bit.ly
This becomes really important if:
1) The link no longer exists, or
2) You made a typo in the link
Method 2: Use UTM Parameters
UTM stands for “Urchin Tracking Module.”
Parameters are the custom data that someone would want to know about a link (where it was placed on the Internet, was it paid for or free, etc). We will get into this more later.
Google Analytics is a very popular reporting tool that a website owner probably has installed on their website.
If a website owner has used UTM Parameters on a link pointing to their site, Google Analytics can understand where it came from (the source) and attach other data to that link, such as, if a sale was made.
A website owner can then evaluate if a source of visitiors is working or not. This is crucial especially if you are paying for traffic.
Example Link With UTM Parameters
Here is a normal link that you might share:
If we wanted to track that link using UTM parameters would look like this:
Putting ?utm_source=email&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=welcome will now help me understand:
- The origin of this link was an email
- The type of newsletter was called welcome, and
- The destination on my website was the homepage
How to use UTM parameters
Step 1: Set up Google Analytics
Step 2: Add UTM parameters to your links
The following are a list of the paramenters that are available for a link. Every link must include Source, Medium, and Name. Content and Term are optional.
Campaign Source – This parameter is best used to identify where your link originates. This could be Facebook, email, etc.
You would use this code: utm_source=
An example would be utm_source=newsletter
Campaign Medium – This parameter is best used to identify if your link is from social media or an affiliate site.
You would use this code: utm_medium=
An example would be utm_medium=email
Campaign Name – This parameter is best used to identify your campaign. Maybe you are running a promotion? This is where you would name it.
You would use this code: utm_campaign=
An example would be utm_campaign=welcome
Campaign Content – This parameter is best used to identify a/b testing content or details about an ad. Links that point to the same URL would also use this parameter.
You would use this code: utm_content=
An example would be utm_content=ad-copy-1
Campaign Term – This parameter is best used to identify paid ads.
You would use this code: utm_term=
An example would be utm_term=insurance
If we put all of the above together, it would look like:
Step 3: Track campaigns with UTM parameters
Go to Google Analytics
Under “Reports” click on “Acquisition”
Then click on “Campaigns”
Finally, click on “All Campaigns”
Step 4: Analyze the data your UTM parameters provide
Let’s say you have written a book and put a link to your website in that book. Why not track that link so you can see the number of people that read your book and then went to your website.
Tools For Building UTM Parameters
Google has a page set up so that you can build your own links with UTM parameters.
Make a copy of my UTM Standards spreadsheet
Building UTM Parameters For A Link
The most important part of making UTM codes is they when you are setting up the codes you need to stay consistent. For example, using the same link from before ( solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=social ), you wouldn’t want to use this for 99% of the time and then have one with an uppercase S in Social ( solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=Social ). This would record differently in Google Analytics and start to mess up your data.
Bad > solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=Social
Good > solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=social
Matt Cutts from Google suggests that you use dashes when creating your links as opposed to underscores, percentage and plus signs in your URLs. For example:
Bad > solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=social+media
Good > solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=social-media
Bad > solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=Social-Media
Good > solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_medium=social-media
? and &
When you are adding additional parameters to a link, you use the question mark (?) for the first parameter and the and the ampersand (&) second. Here is an example:
Bad > http://www.example.com/buy_page?utm_source=newsletter?utm_medium=email
Good > http://www.example.com/buy_page?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email
A/B Testing Link Example
The first link is a text link:
The second link is a clickable image:
As you can see, everything else will stay the same so that when you read your Google Analytics report you can see the impact of changing a text link with a clickable image.