Google’s URL builder (link) is a powerful, free, and handy tool to track on- and offline media feeding your website. It is designed to work seamlessly with Google Analytics, but can also work with other tracking systems, such as Adobe SiteCatalyst.

This tool allows you to enrich any URL with additional information, which will automatically be shown in Google Analytics. This way you’ll be able to segment and track the results of individual campaigns, sources, banner versions and other relevant data. It also allows you to add cost data to these campaigns, so you won’t just see campaign results, but also their ROI.

How to use Google’s URL Builder

Using Google’s URL Builder couldn’t be easier:

  1.  Go to Google’s URL Builder (link)
  2. Enter the complete URL of the link you’d like to track (mandatory)
  3. Enter the Campaign Source (mandatory, e.g. “Yelp”)
  4. Enter the Campaign Medium (mandatory, e.g. “banner”)
  5. Enter the Campaign Term (usually to identify keywords or topics)
  6. Enter the Campaign Content (usually for tracking versions or tests, e.g. “Test 1”, “BannerSize=200×200”, “LandingPage=1” or “Proposition1”)
  7. Enter the Campaign Name (e.g. “SpringOffer”, “ProductIntro”)
  8. Click “Submit”

The tool will provide you with a new, expanded URL which will lead to the same page, but also contains all the extra data for Google Analytics.

Some quick notes:

  • Don’t use any spaces in any of the data you’ve entered.
  • The tags are capital-sensitive. Be consistent when entering your tags.

 That sounds easy enough!

That’s right! Using the tool is easy. The hard part is to maintain consistency across a large Analytics account, especially when multiple people are tagging URLs. If there’s multiple variations of a single tag, campaign data will be fragmented. Fragmented data will complicate analysis considerably. Here’s some helpful hints that will help you to keep your data organized:

  • Be consistent. Choose and stick with one version of a tag, e.g. “email” instead of “email, “e-mail” and “EMAIL”
  • Use proper documentation. Create a coding document with all the tags that all users (including yourself) are allowed to use.
  • Don’t go overboard. When a campaign is unlikely to generate much traffic, don’t create hundreds of links. Remember that a link that only generates a few visitors will not usually not deliver enough information for proper analysis. Instead, aggregate data so you’ll save time and have enough data to analyze. We usually see this with the tagging of press releases and individual keywords.

Keeping it simple often works best.

Tracking Offline campaigns with Google’s URL-Builder

Tracking offline campaigns can be done by using an unique URL. For instance, when the Doohicky-company advertises a special promotion in the Toronto Star, they can advertise “www.doohicky.ca/torontostar” as a destination URL. The analyst can look at a subgroup of visitors who used this as a landing page and - voila! - there’s the results.

However, using the URL builder will make it easy to add campaign data. Here’s how to do this:

  • Choose an easy URL for off-line publishing. It doesn’t even have to exist, as long as it’s within your domain.
  • Run your landing page through the tool and add the tags you need
  • Create a 301-redirect that points the visitor from the easy URL to the actual landing page, including the campaign data

In our Doohicky-example, this would be:

  • Publish URL = www.doohicky.ca/torontostar
  • Landing page = /landingpage
  • Redirect =  /torontostar redirects to /landingpage?utm_source=TorontoStar&utm_medium=editorial&utm_campaign=DoohickyLaunch

If needed, use a 301 Redirect Code Generator or a one of the many free plugins.

URL Builder for AdWords

Don’t use this tool to track Google AdWords campaigns. These can be tracked more efficiently using AdWords’ auto tracking function. More info on this can be found here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1033981?hl=en

 

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