When it comes to getting growth online it’s imperative you know where all your traffic is coming from, how it’s performing and that you can segregate it depending on the source.
If we step into analytics we want to have all of this data at hand, so we can make intelligent decisions and grow like a weed.
Sometimes there are holes in the data inside of analytics, one of the main sources of this is links that are not correctly tagged.
One example of this is if you are linking to your site with banner ads, maybe you have ads on multiple pages or are testing different ads, how do you know which ones work best?
If you don’t correctly tag your links all you will see in analytics is a referral from the website you are advertising on.
Another really common issue is tagging of PPC traffic from Bing.com if you don’t tag the url’s that you are using in your adverts then inside of analytics all you will see is this
Yep, analytics can’t tell the difference between organic traffic and PPC so any traffic it sees from bing.com it lumps together under the source Bing/Organic.
The problem with this is both sets of traffic could be behaving differently, but you can’t tell because you can’t separate them.
With adwords this isn’t a problem, Google auto tags any links from inside adwords adwords so that analytics can pick this up and separate the organic from the paid.
How To Tag Your Links?
We have discovered the problem, not being able to separate and segregate our data. What we have to do now is fix the problem by adding an analytics friendly url tracking code to the end of the URL after the ?
such as http://conversionhouse.co.uk/?[add code here]
The code that needs to be added is called “UTM code” basically it’s code that tells analytics more information about the source of the traffic, if you tag it properly you will be able to segregate this data inside of analytics and get better insights about the performance of the traffic.
Luckily we don’t have to do all of this manually, Google has a free tool to help us generate UTM code to tag our links – we’ll get to that in a minute…
For any of you that are interested and have to know what every acronym stands for (me included) UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module, Urchin analytics was the company that Google acquired because they wanted to get into the analytics game.
Urchin then basically became Google Analytics and as GA evolved it kept some of the functionality of Urchin, hence where the UTM tag comes from.
To use Google’s URL builder for url tracking simply go to Google URL Builder
You will be presented with this page, then just follow the instructions… Firstly add the URL you are driving the traffic to (the landing page).
Next add Campaign source – where the traffic is coming from, in this example it will be Bing.com
After this add the Campaign Medium – what the traffic is, therefore we will use PPC or CPC would be good enough.
You want to add identifiers that you are going to be able to remember and identify when you are looking through analytics in 6 months time. For the bing traffic example it’s fairly easy to work out what should go into the source and medium fields, however if you are tagging other links such as from email, social media, banner ads etc you may want to give some more thought into what describers you use to tag the traffic .
The next part of the form are optional extras, for this example because we are driving PPC traffic we want to fill then in with more information about our ads, such as the keyword used and an identifier for the ad.
Sometimes I won’t use these, for instance if it’s a link from my email signature, I can get enough data from just filling in the other fields.
The next and final step is to name the Campaign, again you will want to give this an identifier that you will recognise.
The next step is pretty obvious – Hit the button dude!
The URL that is generate will look like this…
Traffic going to this link will show up inside of analytics, got to Acquisition > Source/Medium like this…
and any organic traffic from Bing.com will now show up like this
Now we can tell the difference between this traffic inside of analytics and see how the different sources perform, then we can then make decisions accordingly.
Because we have added the extra identifiers for the keyword and ad set name we can also dig down further to get this data as well
If you are clicking on your links to test them and then looking inside of analytics straight away you may not see the data > Universal Analytics has a time lag. If you want more instant results you have to pay for Analytics Premium (yeah Google get you like that).
Some other times you will want to use the URL builder are…
- Forum signature links – so you can split test what signature is more effective and split traffic from other links on the site.
- Email signature links – same reason
- Links from a website.
Here is a screenshot of how this data shows up for some of my links
Notice the two different sources from 4networking by having my forum signature tagged I can tell what that traffic is doing on my website.
The other “referral” is from a link that isn’t tagged, it could be from my profile or it could be from somewhere else I don’t know because I haven’t tagged it.
Hopefully this post has given you a kick to start using the URL builder and start getting some better metrics inside of your analytics, it’s pretty simple to tag URL’s and the added insights it gives you inside of analytics is priceless.
Remember If you don’t correctly tag links to your website with URL builder your data is at best incomplete and at worst just plain wrong – that could mean you are making important decisions based on what you believe to be true and actually isn’t, this could be costing you a lot of money over the long term.