Unlocking the Power of Google Analytics URL Builder

May 18, 2016 Amanda Pollard

In today’s measurement-focused marketing world, marketing attribution—or the the ability to pinpoint where website traffic, conversions, and revenue are coming from—is becoming increasingly important to marketers. Gone are the days when marketing departments didn’t have to prove the value and ROI of their marketing dollars (who really saw that billboard?). Now, marketers need to show the direct impact their efforts have on the bottom line.

Attribution can be challenging without the right measurement tools, but it’s definitely attainable for everyone at some level. Fortunately, you don’t need a large budget or some fancy business intelligence (BI) tool to get started. If you have Google Analytics, UTM parameters are an extremely useful and free attribution method to gauge performance and conversions of your marketing initiatives.

UTM parameters using Google’s URL Builder takes referral traffic reporting to the next level by providing deeper insights on where your traffic is coming from. Using this tool, you can create unique tracking links for every piece of content on your site. You can use it for links in your social posts, emails, digital ads, or any digital marketing effort that links back to your site.

Here’s an example of what a Google UTM link looks like: (Note: Links can be shortened, with bit.ly for example, and it won’t affect tracking.)

Using Google URL Builder is Simple and Easy

Step 1- Enter the link you wish to track

Simply copy and paste the URL into the builder.

Step 2- Add the parameters you want to track.

The three parameters that are required are:

  • Source—In this case it was social. It could also be email or PPC for example.
  • Medium—This is the medium you’re using, for example; “linkedin post” as we were posting this on LinkedIn.
  • Campaign Name— The name of your campaign or piece of content. For this example, we used “self directed buyer”. This post linked to a blog post about the self-directed buyer from One North CEO John Simpson.

Remember to be consistent in your naming (e.g. all lower case, all one word or two). This ensures you can properly track and see your results over time within Google Analytics.

In case you’re wondering about the other two parameters, ‘Campaign Term’, is used for paid search to identify your paid keywords, and ‘Campaign Content’ is used for A/B testing to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.

Step 3- Hit “Generate URL” and copy your unique tracking link.

Then you can input your tracking link into your social post, email, etc.

You will want to repeat these steps for each source or medium within a campaign. For example, change “linkedin post” to “facebook post” when posting to Facebook.

Step 4— See Your Results

Once your link is published for a while and has generated traffic to your site, you can view the results in Google Analytics under Acquisitions>Campaigns.

Under campaigns you will see all of the campaigns you have set up by name, and can see the performance of those campaigns in terms of site visits, pages visited, session duration and any conversions you have set up in Google Analytics.

All of these metrics can help you track the ROI of your marketing efforts and inform you on what to change, improve and double down on moving forward.


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Amanda Pollard Director, Content & Social Strategy - Tell Your Story

Amanda Pollard is a Director, Content & Social Strategy experienced in the development and execution of strategic, award-winning Public Relations and Social Media programs. She takes a metrics-driven approach to Social Media and PR and is passionate about integrating social and digital media with traditional public relations.

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