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How to Use the Google Analytics URL Builder

If you already appreciate Why You Should Use the Google Analytics URL Builder then below is a short guide on how to use and some things to consider about it’s application.

If you have a look at the Google Analytics URL Builder page you’ll see it’s very simple to use.

Enter the url of your site that you will be directing people to, enter your tracking terms in the fields underneath (only 3 are required) and then click the ‘Generate URL’ button.

Now you just copy the tracking code which appears in the box underneath and use that in your marketing campaign. You don’t need to do anything in GA itself. Just start using the link. Simple!

Here are some things you might find useful for tracking marketing campaigns:

  1. Don’t use this tool to track your Adwords campaigns. Instead login to your Adwords account and enable auto tagging which will do it for you.
  2. You will only need to use the Campaign Content field if you want to track various links within a single marketing campaign. For example if you have a mailshot with 1 call to action near the top and another near the bottom then you can use the same tracking link but each with a different Campaign Content term to determine which of the links the visitor used but still tag them all from the same campaign, source and medium.
  3. The campaign name, campaign source and campaign medium and are required fields.
  4. Think of a campaign name being the umbrella term used for a marketing campaign such as Christmas Offer or Valentines Promotion. Within your campaigns you can have lots of sources and mediums.By grouping all your sources and mediums under an umbrella campaign name you can easily glance at a single lined report and see what that campaign acheived for you overall before delving into the details.

    Example: You spend £5k promoting a special offer. You glance at your campaign overview report and see it generated 1500 sales, 400 mailing list subscriptions and 200 enquiries. Regardless of where the traffic came from you can decide immediately if the campaign was successfull.

    Tips: Don’t use the same campaign name for different campaigns even if they promote the same thing: for example the same offer but a month later. Differentiate it using the month you run it for example or you will get data from the campaigns polluting each other.

  5. Your campaign sources are the places or channels you used in your overall campaign. These could be the sites you advertised on, the names of the companies you used to push our your promotion, the name of the mailing lists you used and so on.

    Example continued from above:So you know how much you spent on your campaign and how much it generated for you. By drilling one level deeper into your campaign report you will see a list of the campaign sources down the left hand side of the screen and then a breakdown of the sales, mailing list supbscriptions and enquiries that each source generated for you.

    Tips: Keep your source names consistent across all your campaigns. If I advertise on a certain website for every campaign that I do and I always refer to them using the same source name then at the end of the year I can pull up a report showing sales, subscriptions and enquiries across all my campaigns for that source and easily compare it with how much I spent which them that year. This saves you adding up their value from 12 different reports. Not a huge job if you only have 1 source you use but a big deal when you have 2000 marketing channels!

  6. Your campaign mediums are a way to keep track of the type of advertising you did within your campaigns and various sources. These would be things like email, website banner, rss banner, print advert and so on.

    Example continued from above:You might advertise with a partnering company (campaign source) but they place a banner on their site, an advert in their monthly electronic newsletter and an advert in their printed office bulletin. You will now be able to drill into your sources to see which mediums they used worked and which didn’t.You might see that overall a source was great but by seeing which sources worked and which didn’t you can reallocate your spending with them.

    Tips: Keep your medium names easily recognisable. For example if you start using email1, email2, email3 etc as your naming convention you will never remeber which email you sent out was which within GA. Keep your medium names consistent across your campaigns so that if you ever need to you can pull up a report of all your campaigns and filter the results by medium to find for example how much email marketing contributed to the overall campaign results.

  7. Don’t become lazy and only track some of your marketing. All you will end up with is a GA account you can’t rely on for accurate reporting leading to inaccurate decision making. Generating links is quick and easy.

Please let us know if this guide has helped you. Was there anything you found confusing about the name, source and medium tags when you starting tracking your links? How helpful have you found the reports they provided you with?


  1. Great blog, you make the process sound easy.

    Can you give me a little advice – i have a pdf on my site that i would like people to download, i can measure this goal with a thank you page no problem.

    There are links in the pdf, maybe to 5 pages on my site.

    Can you give me an example on how to build this, so i can track visits from that pdf? Can you only link the pdf once or can you measure every link – what is best and how would i do it?



    • Chris Gilchrist says:

      Hi Paul,
      Just use the Google URL builder to build tracking links. You will need one tracking link for each of the different pages you are linking to from the PDF.

      You would just reuse the same tracking URL for multiple links to the same page on your site throughout the document unless you want to tracking the performance of every specific link (ie measure link to newsletter page from the top of the brochure compared to the link at the bottom of the brochure.)

      Assuming you are linking to 5 different pages, the only thing that will change in the 5 links is the page URL and the rest of the tracking information will stay the same.

      So visit the Google URL builder and create your first link. In the top field put in the full URL of the first page.

      For your tracking information:

      I would make campaign source something like ‘Company Online Brochure’. The Medium would be ‘PDF’ and the campaign name could be ‘Version 1’ incase you want to track a newer version of the same brochure later.

      Add this link to your PDF. Now go back to the URL builder, put in the next page URL and generate a new link. Repeat.

      Now when you view visitor information for a specific page on your site in GA you will automatically be able to see how many came from a link in your brochure.

      You can also go into campaign information in GA to view the overall traffic sent from the PDF.

      A nice consequence of assigning tracking information to a visitor is that if they go on to perform other activities such as newsletter subscription, purchasing something or interacting with the site in some way you will be able to identify if they had previously clicked one of the links in the brochure because it adds that information to their cookie. Handy to measure how well the brochure converts users into signups, purchasers etc.

      If you want to add the information to their cookie regardless of whether or not they click a link within the brochure then make the link to download the PDF itself a tracking link so you tag them at that stage.

      You might also want to set up some custom reports in GA later. So if you have goals on the site you can see what % of users who completed a goal had viewed the brochure before doing so which can help indicate how effective the brochure is in converting traffic for you. It’s one thing to show how many people downloaded the brcohure and another to show how well the brochure actually performs in doing it’s job once viewed.

      Hope this helps :)

  2. Brilliant explanation :) – i will give this a try.

    Thank you.


  3. Hi,

    I have a query from trying this – the URL is really long and does not look too good on the PDF.

    Do i just paste this big link where the old link used to be or is there a way of making it look more natural/smaller?



    • Chris Gilchrist says:

      You can either:

      1. Make some anchor text in the PDF the link so they click some text rather than seeing the link ie ‘click here to do x’

      2. Set up a nice URL and do a redirect. You can also use this technique for tracking offline campaign links where it’s not possible to do the above. Just come up with a nice url such as intergral-networks/link1 and then get your IT or web guys to do a 301 redirect from the nice URL to the tracking link.


      • Anchor text seems best – do i just have my web address URL showing but make this link to the long URL – think i get it. I will try that. Thanks.

        You mentioned:

        If you want to add the information to their cookie regardless of whether or not they click a link within the brochure then make the link to download the PDF itself a tracking link so you tag them at that stage.

        I copied a script (Track outbound links and file downloads automatically in Google Analytics) from this site to go on my site, will this track the PDF being downloaded?

        So to summise – the script – (Track outbound links and file downloads automatically in Google Analytics) will track how many people downloaded PDF’s from my site (including this one in mention) and the URL builder part will track the people who then visit the site from links within the specific PDF documents.

        Is this right? Not too analitical so best to double check.

        And thanks for the speedy responses – appreciated :)

        • Chris Gilchrist says:

          Yes the URL builder links will track visitors to the site from the PDF. You’ve lost me on the script your using :)

          Just make another URL builder link and use that to launch the PDF they download either from the thanks page or the autoresponder. Then you can identify that person as having downloaded the brochure later on whether or not they click any of the links in the PDF or not.

          • Sorry, the script is from a different site – it basically records each time someone downloads a pdf from your site and shows it in analitics report.

            I believe this is the same thing as you propose above, but i only need to add the code to each page once and it will automaticlly track all old and new pdfs in the future – if it works.

            Thanks again your input has been very valuable.

  4. Holyshit! Awesome guide. I was confused in deciding different parameters for measuring response of my marketing efforts and this guide resolved my concerns. Can’t thank you enough for the guide. :)

  5. Awesome website. Bookmarked it!

  6. In #2 you suggest using the “Campaign Content term” how exactly does one view the campaign terms from the URL Builder in Google Analytics? I have not been able to figure out how to see which of the terms the visitor used, but I can find the campaign, source, and medium just fine in Google Analytics. Any help on this would be appreciated.

  7. Chris, thank you for the reply. To make one less click and read for the next person that wonders…
    utm_content = the “Ad Version” dynamic in Google Analytics
    utm_term = the “Keyword” dynamic in Google Analytics

  8. Hi,

    Is it possible to use the URL builder to track how many people view a pdf file on my site?

    I used the URL builder to create a link to the PDF in an email. But it doesn’t look like GA is tracking visits to the PDF. Do you know a way around this?


  9. Hello! I’ve been following your web site for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead
    and give you a shout out from Porter Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!


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