How to Create UTM Tracking Codes for Your Links | Guide

Imagine a typical case; you published 100 posts on Quora, Facebook, Twitter or another social media platform with backlinks to your website. Of course, you can easily see these traffic sources in Google Analytics and understand which one is performing better. But what if you want to have more details; such as which posts exactly are bringing the most traffic and conversions to your website?

Well, the good news is that you can track it all! Within a few minutes, you can find out which post on Quora, which ad on Facebook, which link or button in your newsletter is actually generating traffic and conversions. And this is FREE by the way! What you basically need are Analytics account and UTM tracking codes.

(Forgot to mention that I’m not planning to write tonnes of content about how UTM was created and whom does it belong, how authors define the meaning of that or other extra information you won’t even need in your entire life. What you’ll find in this guide is only practical information about UTM codes you need for your work, OK?)

Soo…..

What are UTM Tracking Codes

UTM codes (or UTM Parameters) are a small text added to your link in order to track a source, medium, and campaign by using Google Analytics. In other words, you create a unique URL and attach to your social media posts, ads, newsletters, guest post links, etc., and when someone clicks on that link you can find out via Google Analytics. Here is an example;

URL example without UTM parameters

URL example with UTM parameters

DO NOT PANIC! No need to understand the meaning of this yet, we’ll get back to that later.

Notice that from the first look, it’s easy to differentiate, isn’t it? OK, now;

Why and Where to Use UTM Parameters

Here are a couple of reasons you should be using UTM codes. You’ll be able to;

  • Segment the traffic by finding out where exactly people clicked to come to your website
  • Implement A/B testing and seeing the differences how well campaigns are performing
  • Save time while easily finding the relevant information, doing analysis and creating reports
  • Comparing reports for better digital marketing strategy

You can use UTM codes in;

  • Newsletters |  Put the UTM link on CTA button, logo, main banner, a backlink to your website, etc.
  • Social Media Platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, Quora, Twitter, Youtube, etc. | Posts, various ads, boosted posts, description link, contact information link
  • The websites that refer you traffic such as guest posts, directories, etc.  
  • Paid Media; PPC, Banner ads, social media ads etc.

Any other reasons or placement sources come to your mind? What if you share those in the comments? We’ll be happy to see that. 😉

The whole process of implementing UTM tracking is;

Let’s explore those steps one by one.

How to Create UTM Links with Google Analytics | Steps

Google’s URL builder is one of the most popular and free tools for creating UTM tracking codes for your campaign. This process is super easy, so just follow the following steps;

1. Open Google’s URL builder.

2. Enter the landing page URL.

3. Fill in the campaign information

  • Campaign Source is the referrer (the website) that users came from. You can put here the name of the social media platform, email newsletter or another website your traffic comes from. Here are the most common ones; Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Youtube etc.
  • Campaign Medium describes the broader category you’re using. For example, if you put Linkedin as a source, your medium will be “social”. Here are other frequently used medium examples; Email, CPC, Affiliate, Display, Banner, etc.
  • Campaign Name is all about the traffic coming from a specific effort. So put here the name of the campaign you’re promoting to be able to see on Google Analytics.
  • Campaign Term is frequently used to find out the keywords in PPC ads.   
  • Campaign Content is mainly for comparing several types of content with the same URL.

4. After entering the parameters a new fully-formed campaign URL is generated by Google. So, just copy this code and attach it to any channels you want associated with the campaign.

NOTE: Your reader can see your tags and the full URM URL in the address bar, even if you shorten the link. Thus, be wise while choosing the names of the parameters. 

How to Track UTM Links on Google Analyics | Steps

After running your campaigns, and generating traffic, it’s time to monitor your results. Go to Google Analytics Reporting>Acquisition -> Campaigns -> All Campaigns -> click on the primary dimensions and sort by a campaign, source, medium or whichever others you’ve specified.

utm codes google analytics tracking

Google’s URL Builder is not the only tool for creating UTM tracking codes. Here are several other tools if you don’t feel comfortable with this one.

BONUS!!! Some Practical Tips on UTM Tracking

  • Use UTM codes only for your outbound content but not for internal links if you don’t want to deal with a not accurate reporting. For instance, if someone comes to your website from Linkedin and then clicks another internal UTM link this user will be considered as a new visitor and the Linkedin source will be lost. You don’t want that, do you?
  • Be as descriptive or precise as possible while creating the UTM links to be able to find it in Analytics easily. ….
  • If you’re working with a team, establish very strict naming conventions that you all will use. Otherwise, if someone uses “quora.com” under “source”, others use “quora” you’ll get muddy data. So make sure you set up certain rules in the beginning.
  • Avoid spaces because it will turn into “%20” and will look messy. Use dashes instead.
  • Differentiate “paid-traffic” from “organic-traffic” at least with the names “linkedin-post” or “linkedin-ad”
  • Test the links before using them. Open a new incognito bar, put the link in the address bar and see if it works or there’s an issue while loading the page.

Don’t forget to keep all your UTM links somewhere to keep everything organized. I’ll leave here the excel sheet sample I use, so feel free to use it. 😉 

Now with this practical info, there’s nothing left to do but to track your links!

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