Got Links? You Should Be Tracking Them!

4/18/2012

Danielle Leitch, Executive Vice President

As a Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP), we take tracking every click and visitor on a website very seriously. Google Analytics is a popular, easy-to-use and free web analytics tool that offers marketers complete insights on website activity, conversions/goals and visitor behavior. Google doesn’t offer personalized or customized support on the program, but they do carefully evaluate a limited number of partners to assist with this. MoreVisibility has earned a spot on the exclusive list of Google Analytics Certified Partners for the past 5 years and we help companies leverage this platform and tool more effectively.

One of the most common pitfalls we see with existing Google Analytics accounts while auditing their set-up and use, is a lack of proper URL tracking. This is easy to resolve and once addressed, will improve your website and data analysis ten-fold. Through proper tracking of links, it will shed light on the performance of each and every marketing effort and campaign executed. It will also allow for more accurate information to be reported on with Organic Search Visitors and traffic. (i.e. – very important to properly measure SEO efforts).

So, how does it work? Wherever there is a URL which can be appended with additional tracking code, you should add code for tracking. Some links, especially if being used for inbound linking for SEO, do not fall into this category. Most common links to track would be those used for SEM/PPC, Email, Digital Media (banner ads), Text Ads, Social Media and other online advertising campaigns. It is important to code the link properly, using a best practices approach for naming conventions. This will help later when analyzing the data within the Google Analytics interface, to easily distinguish one marketing effort and specific campaign from another.

The following is an example of how to properly code a link:
Initial URL – www.MoreVisibility.com/Analytics

From here, you will want to add a minimum of 3 parameters to the end of the link which will then become identifiers of the marketing channel and specific effort when viewing traffic from that link later, within the Google interface.

These parameters are defined as:
Source – Where is the visitor originating from?
Medium – What was the marketing method or means that brought them to your site?
Campaign – Define the marketing effort or reference more details to the click.

The final link to ultimately be used in the ad campaign is:
www.MoreVisibility.com/Analytics?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=april_2012

Take note of the “?” variable, which initiates the 3 tracking parameters identified individually, with each one unique. It is important not to leave any gaps or spaces in that new URL, as it will break the tracking. In place of spaces in the query string, it is recommended to use an underscore ( _ ) instead, which will create a space between the two words when viewing within the Analytics platform.

If you use shortened URLs, add the tracking parameters first and put the elongated URL into the shortener tool. This will allow for complete tracking of all social media posts and network activity.

For assistance creating tracking URLs, please visit the Google Analytics URL Tagging Tool we developed, located on our website.

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