Easy Google Analytics Campaign Tagging

At a recent search and social media conference here in Portland, I sat in a class that talked about the importance of tagging all of your URLs for social, email and display using Google Campaign Tags.


Now, I think that most search marketers are aware of these tags, or at least, aware of the concept of adding parameters to their URLs so that they can get a better idea of where traffic comes from. Despite the obvious benefits, its pretty tedious to tag every link on your site so most of us don’t do it.

I have to admit, I personally haven’t spent much time tagging links in the past, but after this presentation, resolved to do a better job of it.

Unfortunately, the speaker just assumed that everyone in the course knew how to do it. As it turns out, there are definite right and wrong ways to tag your links, and its something you need to develop a strategy around before you get started.

I’m going to share with you the strategy I came up with after numerous false starts, goofs and just flat out mistakes.

The video above demonstrates the campaign tagging strategy I landed on as being the easiest, and at least for me, best.

You can use Google’s URL builder to generate the code you need, but its a little tedious to use and not self explanatory. What I found was that Cardinal Path’s Google Docs worksheet for Campaign Tagging was the best option.

First, download the sheet and it add it to your Google Docs account. You’ll need a gmail account for this, which most people already have – if not, its free.

Next, switch over to the Link Tag Generator sheet on page 2.

Simply copy in the URL you want to tag into the “Destination URL” column.

For “Campaign Name” what I have been done is using the title of my content. If it is a blog post, the title of the blog post. What this does is help you, at a glance, figure out what content your users are looking at when they visit yourself in Google Analytics “Campaign Report.”

The “Traffic Source” is where you will be submitting your link. I was personally confused between this and “Campaign Medium” which I decided would be a subset of source.

Let me explain:

For “Traffic Source” I have a number of options I choose from. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn. You could also of course add the names of other 3rd party referral sites if you wish. Under “Medium” there are various ways to share content on any of those sources.

Twitter, for example, can have posts, it can also have re-tweets, images or even videos. Facebook likewise can have wall posts, images or potentially, ads.

Because I use Buffer (an excellent tool for scheduling sharing of content on Twitter and Facebook) I specified “Buffer” as my “Campaign Medium.”

Again, this is totally dependent on how you think of these things, but this method seemed the most straight forward to me.

The spreadsheet allows for other variables like “Content” and “Keywords” but they are optional and to this point I haven’t needed them. I could see them being especially useful for display campaigns or perhaps segmented email campaigns.

What you end up with is a “Tagged URL” which includes all the information you need to start tracking your content like a pro. The spreadsheet just does a simple concatenation, but it is much easier to use than the Google URL Builder in my opinion.

As a bonus, this spreadsheet will even generate “minified” or shortened URLs for you – great for Twitter sharing if you aren’t using something like the aforementioned Buffer or a service like Bit.ly.

The great thing about having these URLs in a spreadsheet is that you can easily go back to them later. I have to take a moment to thank Chris Sietsema at Teach to Fish Digital for putting me on to this idea. Share the spreadsheet with your clients or colleagues and they have access now to all of your tagged URLs. Cool!

Once you have let loose these bad boys into the wild, you can check up on their stats by signing into your Google Analytics account and visiting the Traffic Sources > Campaigns report. It will take a day for you to see any data, and you might not at first, depending on how often your content is shared. But, eventually you will start to gain valuable insights into how often and where your content is shared socially and being to make better decisions about where you should spend time promoting it.