We share what we find useful or entertaining. Online, this takes the form of a “link.”

When you are running a website or ecommerce site, the question you will start asking is:
Where did my website visitors come from?

Just so we are on the same page, a link is anything that you click (or type into a web browser) that takes you to another location on the web.

Links have become their own version of a map that tells you how to get from Point A on the web to Point B.

But, is anyone clicking your links or buying what you share?

This is where we need a way of tracking those links. Then we need a way of way of analyizing those links.

How Do I Track A Link?

When tracking a visitors activity, you will use a tactic of adding UTM parameters to a link. UTM stands for “Urchin Tracking Module.”

Here is a normal link that you might share:
solveinterestingproblems.com

If we wanted to track that link using UTM parameters would look like thhis:
https://solveinterestingproblems.com?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=welcome

Putting ?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=welcome will now help me understand:

  1. The origin of this link was an email welcome newsletter, and
  2. The destination on my website

How to use UTM parameters

Step 1: Set up Google Analytics

Sign-up or log into 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

https://examplewebsite.com?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=welcome&utm_term=insurance&utm_content=ad-copy-1

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:

https://examplewebsite.com?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=welcome&utm_term=insurance&utm_content=ad-copy-1

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

Facebook has a page set up here for link tracking with their platform.

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

Tips For Building UTM Parameters

Be Consistent

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

Use Dashes

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

Use Lowercase

For example:

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

Make your inbox more interesting.

Get our email and be the first to know what we are writing about.

A/B Testing Link Example

The first link is a text link:

http://www.example.com/landing-page?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=buytext&utm_campaign=brand_x

The second link is a clickable image:

http://www.example.com/landing-page?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=buyimage&utm_campaign=brand_x

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.