Google URL Builder: How to Track Links Shared and get better results

Google URL Builder: How to Track Social media Campaigns

Google URL builderGoogle URL builder is an absolutely essential tool for making more money from your campaigns.

When you read this article you’ll understand why.

How do you track how many people click on the links you share on social channels such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?

What happens when you share the same link in an e-mail?  Are you tracking which link got the best results?

When you look at Google analytics you can see the different channels that generated the traffic (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc) but you can’t drill it down to specific links shared.

At times, you want to really understand where the traffic you generated came from.

The Google URL builder was developed to help marketers address this challenge and this is the Google URL builder tutorial you need.

When you create a link using the URL builder you can tag additional information to the link that describes what the link is about, where the traffic came from when it lands on your site, and much more.

So let’s go through some useful tips on how to use Google URL builder to achieve more success with your online marketing campaigns.

1. What is the process for using the Google URL builder?

First, decide on a link you want to share in a campaign and then go to the Google URL builder and fill out a form related to this link.

The tool will then generate a much longer link that will have additional information about your campaign in it.

This is known as link tagging – you’re tagging additional information onto the link so its easier for you to track links from different campaigns and, more importantly, to attribute traffic to specific links.

2.  Will you share out that link?

The link will be quite long so I’d advise against sharing it ‘as is.’  Instead, use a URL shortener service such as Bitly that will shorten the link for you.

Just go to their website and copy in your link to get a shortened link that’s ready for sharing.

3. When I share the link what happens?

When someone clicks on the link you can view details about this in Google Analytics under the Campaigns section.

 

Google analytics campaign
Select the campaign section to track the links shared

 

From there you can see how many people clicked on the link and what were the results. If you create separate links for social channels, email, etc. you can drill down and see which was the most successful. This wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t track your links with google’s URL tracking tool.

4. How to configure URL tracking

The configuration involves filling out a form for each link you want to create. You go to the Google URL builder form and complete the following details:

Campaign Source

This defines where you are posting your content.  For example, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

When you look at your tracking link you’ll see this:

‘utm_source=Facebook’

Campaign Medium

Medium is a marketing method that brought people to the site. For example:

  • Ad Post – You are posting the content directly on your Facebook page
  • Pinned Post – A post on your personal page
  • Facebook Advertising – this is a link shared through an advertising campaign.

Now you can view Google Analytics and figure out which generated you the revenue, the advertising or the Facebook post.

If you configure ‘Facebook Advertising’ you will see the following added to the link:

‘utm_medium=Facebook advertising’

Campaign Name 

This is where you’ll name your campaign and it’s very useful to do so, especially if you run multiple campaigns simultaneously. Give a unique name to each link you want to track so you can easily find it in Google Analytics.

If you configure ‘Facebook_offer’ you will see the following added to your website address:

‘utm_term’ = Facebook_offer’

Campaign Term

This is an optional field and is used to mention the keywords you are using as part of your advertising campaigns.

Imagine if you were running Google advertisement and you were targeting two different keyword sets. You could create multiple URL’s with different campaign terms:

Campaign term 1 = Hotel booking

Campaign term 1 = Accommodation Dublin

If you configure ‘Hotel booking’ you will see the following added to your URL:

‘utm_term’ = Hotel+booking’

Campaign Content

The best example of using campaign content is in an e-mail.

a). If you have different versions of your e-mail which has slightly different offers you could have the exact same links but just have campaign content different

Campaign Content = Free Shipping

Campaign Content = 10% off

Or you could use different content parameters in the same e-mail for the same URL and just track which link is clicked in what location e.g.

Campaign Content = Top Bar

Campaign Content = Footer link

If you configure ‘Hotel booking’ you will see the following added to your website address:

‘utm_content’ = top bar’

5.  What does a link look like when it’s created:

www.razorsocial.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Facebook%20ads&

utm_campaign=Facebook%20Offer

You can see all the additional parameters added.

It might look a bit technical but if you look closely you can see source=, medium= and campaign=.  This is great for tracking where these links were clicked and what happened as a result of the clicks.

Normally. when you are sharing the link you’ll want to shorten it to fit better on channels such as Twitter. For example, this link could be changed to something like this: bit.ly/234357

6.  How do I view this in Google analytics?

In the acquisition section if you select ‘campaigns’ you should see the campaign name listed. In the example below we set up a campaign called ‘Marketing tools infographic

 

Google analytics campaign
Track the URL under the campaign section

 

If I click on this then I can see further details.  We see the source and medium.  As this was a link shared out on Twitter we set the source as ‘Twitter’. We set the medium as a ‘Tweet’.  If we were doing some advertising with this link on twitter we could have a medium of ‘Twitter advertising’.

 

Google analytics medium
This displays the source and medium

 

Can you see how this is so beneficial?

You are no longer looking at analytics trying to figure out what worked/didn’t work. Now google is tracking every URL you share in your campaigns making it easier to understand how each individual campaign has performed.

Summary

You may not use Google URL builder for every link your share, but if you’re running a particular campaign and want to assess the value you get from the platforms you use, then it can be extremely helpful.

For example, this type of link tracking will help you understand if a Facebook ad worked better than a Facebook post or a tweet. With this kind of insight, you’ll be much better equipped to plan future campaigns.

Have you used Google URL builder before to track links? Were you happy with the results? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

20 Responses to Google URL Builder: How to Track Social media Campaigns

  1. Ian, thanks for the helpful post. I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s possible to add custom URL parameters within Google Analytics and have it track in a similar fashion. So instead of “utm_campaign” or “utm_source”, I would like to create a parameter for, say, “utm_date”. Obviously I can append such a parameter onto the end of any URL, but what I can’t figure out (if it’s even possible) is how to program into Analytics that I want it to track this as its own variable. Any chance you can shed light on this? Thanks much!

  2. One of the problems I come across is coming up with a good naming convention for UTM parameters. e.g I try to use and recommend lower case names so that we don’t have “Facebook” and “facebook”.

    Do you have any recommendations that have worked for you?

    • Hey Puru, you’re right about the name convention. I think Google should ignore case so ‘Facebook’ and ‘facebook’ are exactly the same. There’s not a lot you can do other than ensuring that you use lowercase for everything and try to come up with a policy if multiple people are creating the parameters.

  3. Nice guide for google analytics. But there are two nonsense way are also present to know how many shares you got. First is using share it widget at the bottom of the post and second is using TYNT. which also gives you detailed report about sharing.

    • Hi, the idea of the builder is being able to track when people click on the links and come back to your site. You can then track where they came from. It doesn’t track shares. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Great post, Ian. I’ve been doing this for awhile and to make it even quicker, there’s an extension you can get for Chrome where you can save your settings for Facebook page post, LinkedIn page post, etc. You pick your saved tracking codes from a dropdown and can even connect your bit.ly account for quick link shortening. And, no, I have received no compensation for this review, just love the tool!! https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-analytics-url-buil/gaidpiakchgkapdgbnoglpnbccdepnpk

  5. I hate Social media, because of various reasons specially for facebook and loves to use Twitter. I never built a good profile except on Digg, Propeller and Facebook too. I deleted my Facebook account for some personal reason.
    Coming to the point of your post Ive read the twitter paragraph and you had only few hits from twitter, but in earlier days I got in a day more than 100 hits with a 2000 followers only.
    Can you mention some answers for me if you have some time to comment here?
    Does linkedin brings any traffic?
    How get a Facebook post link? I mean for the article on Facebook share.
    How to remove Google plus unfollowers?

  6. Use cutyfox URL shortener with Firefox. Add your bit.ly account to it and you will have a nice and fast way to generate short links. See the picture. Just press the scissors and it’s ready.

  7. Brilliant post. The one problem I am having is that if someone from a different country uses the link, the landing page is not being recognised as the site is trying to put them on to the Japanese, Spanish, German pages etc. Is there any way round this issue for Google Campaign URLs to be applicable worldwide?
    Many thanks for any help

  8. Wow, great post! Quick question though….is there a trick to getting the URL’s you build to show up under Campaigns in GA? I’ve tried it 3-4 times now with different links and none of them show up?? Any suggestions?

  9. Hey, great little summary 🙂 I was wondering, what’s the utility of campaign term and content if we can’t see it in google analytics? We can only see the name, source and medium :/
    Thanks!

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