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URL Builder Basics for Google Analytics Campaign Tracking

One of the most challenging parts of Digital Marketing is accurate data analytics. It’s easy to launch a Campaign without a solid, clear measurement strategy. For example, I could set up a Facebook account, add in a credit card, write garbage copy, throw a stock photo of a family, insert the homepage as the landing page, type in a few interests, set a daily budget with a start and end date, and voilà, a live Facebook campaign in 20 min.

These are the types of campaigns that drive impressions and clicks, but have no real substance to them. Sadly, there are many agencies, consultancies, and start-ups that do this to earn quick dollars without investing much time or thought. This article will not only help you customize URLs for Google Analytics, but will help you drive more value to your client and/or customers because you can measure their results.

URL Builder & Tracking Parameters For Google Analytics Defined

A URL builder is simply a tool (or process) for creating a URL with defined parameters to help Marketers like us track and measure links.

There are five (5) Google Analytics tracking parameters known as “utm parameters” to help measure your campaigns. For each different source (i.e. google, bing, etc.), medium, term, content, or campaign, you will need to use a different “utm parameter” identifier to customize your URL builder (more details in next section below on how to use them). According to Google’s URL support page, here are the five (5) “utm parameters” and how they are defined.

Campaign Source: Required.

Tracking Parameter: (utm_source)
Why Use It: Use utm_source to identify a search engine, newsletter name, or other source.
Example: utm_source=google

Campaign Medium: Required.

Tracking Parameter: (utm_medium)
Why Use It: Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email or cost-per- click.
Example: utm_medium=cpc

Campaign Term: Used for paid search.

Tracking Parameter: (utm_term)
Why Use It: Use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.
Example: utm_term=running+shoes

Campaign Content: Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads.

Tracking Parameter: (utm_content)
Why Use It: Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.
Example: utm_content=logolink or utm_content=textlink

Campaign Name: Used to segment your campaigns.

Tracking Parameter: (utm_campaign)
Why Use It: Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.
Example: utm_campaign=spring_sale

How To Customize Your Google Analytics URL Builder & Tracking Parameters With Excel

Now that the URL parameters have been defined, how do you build a URL builder and use GA tracking parameters?

If, for example, you are launching a new “Golf Balls” CPC campaign in Bing and want to track your Campaign, Ad Group, and Keyword (query user used) in Google Analytics and send it to “”, you will add Google Analytics tracking parameters on each Ad Group level URL. If you are sending traffic within the same Ad Group to multiple pages, you will have to build out Keyword level URLs and place them on each Keyword. I recommend using Ad Group level URLs because there are less opportunities for error and it’s easier to manage.

Using Google’s parameter guidelines, here is how your URL parameters are going to be defined.

Campaign Source

Tracking Parameter: (utm_source)
Example: utm_source=bing

Campaign Medium

Tracking Parameter: (utm_medium)
Example: utm_medium=cpc

Campaign Term

Tracking Parameter: (utm_term)
Example: utm_term={QueryString}

In this example, we are populating a custom URL for bing cpc; therefore, we are using utm_term={QueryString}.

Using {QueryString}, Bing should populate this field dynamically with the query used to trigger that click. You could also use {Keyword} instead of {QueryString}, which Bing would populate this field with the Keyword you bid on that triggered the click.

Campaign Content

Tracking Parameter: (utm_content)
Why Use It: Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.

In this simple example, “utm_content” will be used to define our ad group. This UTM parameter can be used for unique ad dimensions, ad groups, or other custom identifiers you choose.

Campaign Name

Tracking Parameter: (utm_campaign)
Example: utm_campaign=Golf%2BBalls (“%2B” is a way for Google Analytics to understand a “space”. Anytime you need a space, you can use “%2B”).

Once you have your parameters defined, you should use excel to “concatenate” them to create a structured URL. “Concatenate” is a fancy excel term/function used to describe the process of linking things (parameters) together (see very bottom of article in the BONUS section for an exportable excel URL builder).

While you’re concatenating, remember these tips in your GA URL builder:

  1. Add a question (?) mark after the URL and before the first UTM parameter
  2. Add an ampersand (&) after each following UTM parameter
  3. Copy and paste customized URL (concatenated version) as values
  4. Find and replace all spaces with “%2B”

Your final customized URL builder should output something similar to this:{QueryString}&utm_content=Titleist&utm_campaign=GolfBalls

Two Final Notes:

  1. You don’t have to use all five (5) UTM parameters for your new custom URL(s), only Source, Medium, and Campaign are required fields.
  2. Quadruple check your URLs before launching. It is incredibly easy to misspell something, forget to replace a space with an “%2B”, or leave out a question mark or ampersand when they are needed.