How to create Google Analytics tracking links

by on May 29, 2014

One of the best things about internet marketing is the ability to track so much. You have all kinds of data that you can use to guide your efforts, learn and grow.

A basic online tracking tactic is using special links so that you can better understand engagement and activity with your link. There are many free online tools that can help you with this. bitly is a popular one that I use. These simply link tracking tools are definitely helpful, but they don’t give you the richest data. It’s all pretty high level, such as number of clicks or social media shares for example.

In this post I want to show you how you can use Google’s URL builder (free) to create tracking links that sync up with your Google Analytics (also free) to give you lots more info about your links.

What kind of info?

Essentially, all the kinds of data you are used to accessing in your Analytics, such as number of visits, time on site, bounce rate, you can see for the specific tracking link you created. With goals set up, you can see which links lead to the most goal completions, whether it’s an online sale, or a sign-up for your free download.

Can you give me an example of how a tracking link could help me?

OK, let’s look at a simple scenario.

You are selling a product online and you use social media to promote it. You want to get a better understanding of which social channel brings you the most sales. So you set up a special tracking link for each of your channels. You can now access information around which social channel converts best for you. You might find that you get the most traffic from Facebook, but more people from Twitter actually buy. Using this information, you can decide to devote more time to Twitter, since it’s the most lucrative channel for you.

So it’s a good idea to use tracking links with any offline campaigns, promotions or other marketing activities where it’s important for you to understand how your site is converting.

Sounds good? Let’s take a look at setting up these links.

  1. Go to the Google URL builder.
  2. Fill in the basic required fields.
  3. Click Submit and then simply copy and paste the URL provided. This is your live tracking link. Depending on where and how you are using this link, you might want to use a URL shortener to shrink the link.

Google Analytics Tracking Links

How should I fill in the fields?

There is quite a bit of flexibility in terms of how you fill out the fields. Do what you feel makes the most sense and will help you best identify what you have going on.

The image above is an example of how I filled out these fields for a Twitter advertising campaign.

Website URL: The website link you want to track.

Campaign source: Where the traffic is coming from, such as Twitter for example.

Campaign medium: What is being shared or how, for example a Promoted Tweet.

Campaign name: Create a label or description to describe your campaign, such as free website download.

It’s important when creating links to keep consistency in how you label things to make it easier for you to digest and organize your data. You should keep the fields the same for one tracking campaign.

So using the example from above, when you’re tracking which social media channel brings you the most sales, you would use the same fields for all links, only changing up the field where you name the social channel.

Google Analytics Campaigns

What now?

Now you wait for the data to collect!

You can access it anytime in your Google Analytics account. In the left side navigation go to Acquisition > Campaigns.

Do you use tracking links for your internet marketing efforts? What have you learned from gathering such data? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Biddulph June 16, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Martha, I get a bit lazy with GA, thanks for the nudge 😉
Ryan Biddulph recently posted..How to Live the Dream: 1 Tip to Be Happy and Successful


Martina Iring June 18, 2014 at 11:49 am

You got it Ryan! Thanks for checking out the post 🙂 Cheers


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