What is link tracking?
Link tracking is simply measuring how many people click on a link to your website. If you only provide a raw link like the example directly below.
EXAMPLE: ( https://projekt15.com )
It can still be measured but with far less accuracy than a link constructed with UTM parameters.
The above link might look complicated but I will explain each parameter in more detail in this article. Just remember that even though the two links may look different they both take you to the exact same website. The only difference being that the UTM coded link carries additional information with the visitor that you can use to pinpoint exactly where they came from.
What are UTM Codes?
UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module (UTM). Don’t let the weird name scare you off. Urchin was the name of an analytics company that was acquired by Google back in 2005. They became Urchin by Google and eventually became known as Google Analytics.
Now that you know what UTM stands for and a bit of the history let’s dive into UTM parameters, what they are, and how to use them.
Simply put UTM codes are parameters that can be appended to the end of a URL. These extra bits of information act like “flags” that Google analytics can record when a visitor arrives on your webpage.
Here are the 6 parameters that are used when creating a trackable UTM link.
Utm_source *Required This parameter records the source of your traffic. EXAMPLE: utm_source=facebook
Utm_medium *Required This parameter records what type of link was clicked. Email, blog, CPC, etc. EXAMPLE: utm_medium=email
Utm_campaign *Required This parameter records what type of campaign, product, or promotion the link represents. EXAMPLE: utm_campaign=wordpress_plugin
Utm_term This parameter records paid keywords EXAMPLE: utm_term=link_tracking
Utm_content This parameter records variations such as link position on page, text or image variations in ads. EXAMPLE: utm_content=logo_link_top
How do I create UTM codes?
There are many ways to create these trackable UTM links but we will only cover three of theme.
Create them by hand. This is by far the worst way of doing it but it is entirely possible as long as you follow a strict formula.
Website URL ( https://projekt15.com/? ) followed by a trailing / and a ?
Campaign Source ( https:/projekt15.com/?utm_source=blog ) followed by an &
Campaign Medium ( https://projekt15.com/?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=social)followed by an &
Campaign Name ( https://projekt15.com/?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=simple_url_tracker) followed by an &
Campaign Term ( https://projekt15.com/?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=simple_url_tracker&utm_term=none ) followed by an &
Campaign Content ( https://projekt15.com/?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=simple_url_tracker&utm_term=none&utm_content=bottom_Link )
As you can see, this would be very time consuming and very prone to human error. I do not recommend building trackable links this way especially with so many free options available.
2. The most well known way to build a free trackable link is to use Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder. https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/
If you are looking for free, accurate, and reliable, why not go to the source!
3. If your website is powered by WordPress I have a shameless plug for you. We believe so strongly in tracking every link you have control over that Projekt15 built a plugin to construct trackable links based off of UTM parameters. It is completely free and allows you to create the link directly from any page, post, or product. Feel free to download this free plugin from the WordPress plugin repository. https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-url-tracker/
Why should I use it?
It is no secret that the internet is vast. Every topic, view point, product, service, and idea has serious competition to be heard. If you are creating content or selling products or services your top priority should be to get noticed. Unfortunately not everyone understands this and might as well be screaming into the abyss.
But not you. Not anymore! Now that you understand how to create your very own free trackable links using UTM parameters you can start accurately measuring your traffic sources. You need to track every link you have control over. Find out where your traffic is coming from and double down in this area.
If you are a social media powerhouse and you believe Facebook or instagram is the main traffic source prove it. You might be surprised where your true fans are coming from. If they are in fact coming from social which platform? Once you know they are all from Instagram use utm_content to record variations and conduct A/B testing.
No matter how you do it make certain you are tracking every link you have control over!