Google URL Builder - Deeper Tracking for Your Analytics



Google Analytics has emerged as the industry's leading tool when it comes to web analytics.  The platform's easy installation process, in-depth reporting features  and user-friendly interface make it a marketer's best friend.  Among the many reporting features in Google Analytics is the ability to chart where your website's traffic is coming from. Google URL Builder is an often overlooked platform in the Google toolbox that can help organizations measure the effectiveness of their web presence. URL Builder is primarily tailored for tracking internet campaigns that fall outside of the pay-per-click or Adwords realm.



Here's a quick overview of URL Builder:

  • Works in conjunction with Google Analytics to provide advanced metrics for measuring the performance of a specific URL that you will “build”.
  • Allows you to  chart the traffic for particular pages within your website and determine which communications channels provide stronger traffic per page.
  • Allows you to enter tags for detailed tracking, particularly Campaign Source, Campaign Medium, and Campaign Name.
    • Campaign Source indicates the originating source of the traffic.  Does it come from your organization?  Is another organization promoting a web link on your behalf?
    • Campaign Medium is useful for charting how much of the campaign's traffic comes from different locations.  Did the traffic come from e-mail, web ad, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
    • Campaign Name is a short description for the campaign - often one to three words and often a distillation of the link's page title.
    • Google processes this information and provides you with information about the performance of your unique URL including its bounce rate and conversion

For example, here's the information that we will assign to a URL campaign for the article you are currently reading:

  • Campaign Source: tita -- We use "tita" to indicate when Technology in the Arts is the originating source of the traffic.
  • Campaign Medium: twitter -- The medium area is where we indicate if a link will be shared on Twitter, in an e-mail, on our Facebook page, etc.
  • Campaign Name: GoogleURLBuilder -- Typically, we use a shortened version of our article titles as campaign names for analytics.

Let’s consider some practical applications:

Web Content: It could be very helpful to see how fans and followers on your social media profiles compare and contrast in terms of their interaction with your blog posts, event listings, etc. Simply build a URL for each campaign medium to which you distribute your web content links (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and see how your links perform across various sites.

Email Announcements and Newsletter Campaigns: Another useful application could be for tracking the performance of URLs in your email announcements and newsletter campaigns. You would simply enter ‘newsletter’ into the campaign source option. For smaller organizations or independent artists who do not utilize broadcast email service providers (like Constant Contact), Google URL builder could prove to be a viable alternative for tracking traffic deriving from e-mail communication.

Helping Others: When conducting an interview or mentioning another link on your blog or website, consider contacting that person and asking them if there is a specific URL you should use in your post (in case they have a campaign name established for that page). This will make it easier for them to track how much exposure their blog, website or the interview received based on your posting it.

If they do not have a customized URL for you to use, it is still a great idea to create your own.  Because the web page is being tracked within their Google Analytics data, the campaign data (source, medium, name, traffic information) will appear in their reports.  If you share multiple links from the same website, then using URL Builder for each link you share will allow the organization to see if particular links were more interesting to your communication recipients and site visitors.

Google URL Builder Best Practices

  • Always take time prior to setting up a campaign to consider your ultimate goals. Which sources and media will you need to track?
  • Reach out to other organizations and bloggers prior to posting a link to their information in your post.  They may provide you with a customized URL designed for their Google Analytics campaign reports.
  • Consider if any adjustments should be made in your email, social media and overall web campaigns as a result of the data you collect.
  • Spread the word! Share URL Builder with your colleagues to make sure that everyone on staff uses the correct URLs when sharing links.

Want to learn more? Check out our mini-nar:

Using Google URL Builder to Track Your Website's Traffic