How to track traffic using UTM tags

 

You place links to your site in contextual adverts, thematic forums, social networks, emails, etc. You can identify the source of traffic by using UTM tags.

What are UTM tags

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tags are URL parameters which allow monitoring channels, traffic sources, keywords, user devices and other data.

UTM tags architecture

UTM tags are GET parameters. They are parameters that are added to the URL after the question mark and are separated by an ampersand “&”. GET parameters are used to pass certain data to the server by means of a link.

A URL with UTM tags in the browser address bar looks like this:

UTM tags have two parts: a value and a variable.

http://site.ru?utm_значение1=переменная1&utm_значение2=переменная2&utm_значениеN=переменнаяN

There are five universal UTM tags:

  • three are mandatory (missing at least one tag in the URL will result in incorrect statistics collection);
  • two are optional (optional).

 

Google Analytics, Yandex.Metrika, and other analytics systems understand universal tags.

For Google, the order in which you place the tags does not matter. Even if you first put utm_content, and then – utm_source, the analytics system will consider all the data correctly.

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How to create UTM tags

Proper syntax is important for proper functioning of UTM tags. Let’s take a look at the step-by-step procedure for creating links with UTM tags using an example.

Raw data for creating UTM tags:

landing page – https://click.ru;
The advertising system – Google Ads;
Type of advertising – search;
The name of the advertising campaign – Affiliate Program;
the number of ads – 2;
keywords: “earn money from contextual advertising”, “referral program”.

Let’s look at an example of creating a UTM tag for an ad 1:

Specify the advertising platform:

https://click.ru

Put a question mark:

https://click.ru?

Write the first mandatory tag – specify the traffic source as the value:

https://click.ru?utm_source=google

Put an ampersand:

https://click.ru?utm_source=google&

Prescribing the second mandatory mark – specify the type of advertising:

https://click.ru?utm_source=google&utm_medium=search

Put an ampersand

https://click.ru?utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&

Prescribe a third mandatory marker – specify the name of the campaign:

https://click.ru?utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=patrnerskaya-programma

Add an ampersand and write the first optional tag – specify the number of the ad:

https://click.ru?utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=patrnerskaya-programma&utm_content=ad1

Add an ampersand and write the second optional tag – specify a keyword:

https://click.ru?utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=patrnerskaya-programma&utm_content=ad1&utm_term=zarabotok-na-kontekstnoi-reklame

The UTM-tagged link for ad 2 follows the same algorithm. It will differ from the first link with two last values – utm_term and utm_content (it will have a different ad number and keyword).

Non-compliance with the syntax leads to incorrect links with UTM tags.

Common mistakes when composing UTM tags

  • Not all required parameters were specified.
  • Cyrillic letters were used instead of Latin letters.
  • Capital letters were used for parameters or values.
  • There was no question mark before the first label or there were multiple question marks.
  • There is a missing & sign between the labels.
  • Words are not separated by underscores or hyphens.
  • There are mistakes in the parameter names.
  • Different values were used to identify the same sources (for example, one link used yandex as an advertising system, while the other used yandeks as an advertising system).
  • A different encoding was used instead of UTF-8.
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What are dynamic parameters in UTM tags

You can use static and dynamic parameters in UTM tags.

Static parameters are when the tag values are set manually and don’t change. The disadvantage of using them is that they solve a limited range of problems, since they only pass the parameters that were specified when setting them up.

Dynamic parameters are used for advanced statistics. They are used automatically and supported by Google Ads.

Dynamic parameters in UTM tags allow:

  • Determine from which device (desktop/mobile) ad clicks were made;
    track users’ locations;
  • find out which extension a user clicked on;
  • Determine the position of the ad in the search results and so on.

 

Google Ads uses its own dynamic parameters.

Google Ads dynamic parameters

 

Google Ads has its own system for tracking dynamic parameters – Value Track. These parameters are text that is enclosed in curly braces – for example, {device}.

An example of a link with Value Track parameters:

https://click.ru/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpm&utm_campaign={campaignid}&utm_content={creative}&utm_term={keyword}

Decoding of some dynamic parameters.

For a complete list of dynamic Google Ads options, see the help.

How to add UTM tags to contextual ads

UTM tags start working as soon as they are added to the URL. Let’s look at what methods there are for adding tags to Google Ads campaigns.

Marking URLs in Google Ads ads

There are two ways to add tags in Google Ads: manually and by using a tracking template. The first option is time-consuming, so we recommend using tracking templates for quick ad markup. They allow you to set tags at the account, campaign and ad group level.

An example of a tracking template for setting up an ad campaign:

{lpurl}?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=campaign-N&utm_term={keyword}

Here {lpurl} is the final URL that is spelled out in the URL string of the ads themselves.

How to add UTM tags to a new campaign

1. To add a template for a new campaign, in the Settings section, choose the Advanced Settings item.

2. In the list that opens, select Campaign URL Options. On the “Tracking Template” line, enter the link with the UTM tags.

3. Check the parameter settings. To do this, click “Verify”. If everything is correct, save the changes.

How to add UTM tags to an existing campaign

1. Go to Settings and highlight the campaign for which you are changing the template. Select “Change Tracking Templates”.

2. Select Set Tracking Template. On the “New Tracking Template” line, enter the previously generated link with UTM tags. Next, select the campaigns to which the changes will be applied.

After clicking the “Apply” button, the UTM-tagged templates will be applied to the ads of the selected campaigns.

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How to track UTM tags statistics

You have created a markup of links and want to see the UTM tags statistics. To do this, use Google Analytics and Yandex.Metrics reports.

Tagging reports in Google Analytics

Go to your account, find “Traffic Sources” under “Reports”. Next, click on “All Traffic” and select “Source/Channel.”

This report tells you where the traffic is coming from (utm_source) and how it is being received (utm_medium).

To obtain data on campaigns (utm_campaign) set the main parameter – “Campaign”.

To obtain a report on keywords (utm_term) in the main parameters, select “Keyword”.

To obtain data on the links in the ad (utm_content) set the main parameter – “ad content”.

How to generate UTM tags

You can generate tags in two ways: by yourself or with the help of special services. Manual creation of tags takes a lot of time and increases the risk of making mistakes. Therefore, use UTM tags generators, they will help you to generate your tags quickly and correctly.

Campaign URL Builder

This service was developed by Google. Fill in all the mandatory fields: target URL, click-through source, traffic type, campaign name. Set optional UTM tags.

Как отслеживать трафик с помощью UTM-меток

After completing the mandatory items (marked with *) the service automatically generates a link.

Как отслеживать трафик с помощью UTM-меток

Advantages of the linker:

  • Using the generator in conjunction with Google Analytics allows you to determine which campaign brings the most conversions and leads to the business;
  • there is an option to shorten links;
  • You can copy a ready-made URL with tags and paste it into your ads.

 

Disadvantage: no transliteration and error correction function.

Tilda Generator

The generator has templates for UTM tags for Google Ads, Yandex, VK, Facebook and myTarget. You can also create tags with your own values.

 

There is an option to shorten the URL after generating the link. You can choose from several services for shortening links: biy.ly, clck.ru, is.gd, v.gd.

The advantages of the service:

  • preset parameters for different advertising systems;
  • Help for dynamic parameters for Yandex, Google and myTarget;
  • There is an opportunity to copy and shorten links;
  • The program includes transliteration and error correction.

UTMURL generator

The link generator has limited functionality, so it’s convenient to use for small ad campaigns. To generate a link, enter the values that will be inserted in the tags and click on the “Generate link” button.

After doing this, the service will generate a marked link:

Как отслеживать трафик с помощью UTM-меток

Advantages of the generator:

  • simple interface;
  • availability of transliterator, which automatically translates values written in Russian into Latin.

 

Disadvantages of the generator:

  • there is an automatic filling of mandatory parameters only for Yandex.Direct and Google Ads;
  • There is no function to automatically correct errors, the service only highlights the places with errors in red;
  • There’s no manual for working with dynamic parameters.
  • Problems when using UTM tags

There are two main problems with UTM tags: too long URLs and duplicate pages. Let’s look at each of them.

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Long URL

Problem: the link gets oversized several times due to the fact that it’s appended with UTM tags. The result is that the URL is not fully displayed in the address bar, such links are inconvenient to share. But it’s more of an aesthetics problem, because link size doesn’t affect the speed of page loading or its position in search results.

Solution: use any free link reduction service. For example bitly, is.gd , bit.do etc.

Duplicate pages

Problem: search engine can detect and index one and the same content on the main link and on a link with a UTM tag.

Solution: There are three ways out of this situation.

Add the rel=”canonical” attribute. On pages with UTM tags, write the rel=”canonical” attribute in your <head> tag with the main (canonical) URL. This URL will be indexed by robots.

Example:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://click.ru/education.html”/>

Put this code in the robots.txt. In the robots.txt file, add the Clean-param directive to the Yandex indexing robot. This directive prohibits indexing links with specified GET-parameters.

User-agent: Yandex

Clean-param:

utm_source&utm_medium&utm_campaign&utm_content&utm_term&sid&gclid&yclid

For Google robot, disallow indexing URLs with UTM tags using the Disallow directive:

User-agent: Googlebot

Disallow: /*?utm_source=

Disallow: /*&utm_medium=

Disallow: /*&utm_campaign=

Disallow: /*&utm_content=

Disallow: /*&utm_term=

Other ways to mark up URLs to track traffic

You can use more than just UTM tags to track link traffic. Let’s take a look at other ways to markup links.

GCLID tags

gclid (Google Click Identifier) – is a feature which automatically marks a page on Google. It works like this: when a user clicks on an ad, the gclid parameter is automatically added to the final URL. For example, URL www.click.ru with gclid parameter attached will look like this: www.click.ru/?gclid=123xyz.

An example of a link with gclid in the browser address bar:

Как отслеживать трафик с помощью UTM-меток

Terms of gclid:

  • Adding a Google Analytics tag to your site;
  • enabling automatic tagging in your Google Ads account.

Like UTM tags, gclid allows you to track how often clicks result in conversions (calls, purchases, subscriptions, etc.). But it has two disadvantages:

  • gclid tags can only be used to analyze ad links from Google Ads;
  • Only Google Ads and Google Analytics understand these tags.

In the end, you will still need UTM tags to analyze other ad channels and collect summary statistics.

Openstat tags

Openstat is an external statistical system for tracking the results of advertising campaigns in Yandex.Direct.

With the help of openstat you can track the source of traffic, the advertising campaign, the ad and the advertising platform.

An example of a link with Openstat tags:

Как отслеживать трафик с помощью UTM-меток

Conditions for Openstat tags to work: automatic markup of links should be enabled in the advertising campaign parameters. To do this, turn on the “External Internet Statistics” option.

The disadvantage of Openstat is that Google Analytics does not recognize these tags by default. You will have to modify the counter code.

 

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