Which of your online marketing campaigns is actually working? This can be an incredibly frustrating question. Luckily, the Google URL builder lets you track where your inbound traffic is coming from so you can better answer this question.

What is the Google URL Builder?

The Google URL Builder is a free online tool that creates custom URLs based on pre-set parameters set by you. This means you have the potential to track the source of inbound traffic on specific landing pages.

What kind of data does that really translate to? Let’s take a single blog post as an example.

Without any fuss, your standard Google Analytics account will tell you details about how your post is attracting inbound traffic, such as 85 Unique Page Views from LinkedIn, 74 from Twitter, and 120 leads from Facebook.

But all three of these social platforms are big. With this minimal data, you don’t know if that traffic came from your company page, a group in which you participate or a general post. While no solution is 100% — UTM codes let you track inbound traffic from the posts you share.

Other social users can, and hopefully will, share your post. Because you have limited control of the URL they use (we’ll talk more about this in a second), it’ll be hard to track traffic from your general audience. But tracking the traffic from your own efforts can help you distinguish what you’re generating and what users are driving to your site.

Man Looking at Tablet
By adding custom parameters to a URL, the Google URL Builder allows you to segment specific traffic sources to a single landing page.

How Does Google’s URL Builder Work?

The Google URL Builder is an online form that looks like this:

It allows you to input the URL and give custom parameters, three of which are mandatory:

  • Campaign source (mandatory): defines the platform such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

  • Campaign medium (mandatory): defines how the post was shared, like cpc (for a CPC campaign), status, tweet, group or insta-story.

  • Campaign name (mandatory): helps categorize individuals campaigns so you can better sort and track their effectiveness, like spring-sale, content-marketing, november-2019-concert

  • Campaign term: this is ideal for paid search, as it allows you to define 2-3 of the keywords being used in an ad, for example email-marketing, car-detail, bellingham-restaurants

  • Campaign content: this field is ideal for A/B testing ads, allowing you to differentiate individual ads that point to the same URL, like boosted-post or guest-post

As you fill in the available fields, the builder will automatically generate the URL at the bottom of the screen. Then all you have to do is copy the link and use it!

Man Looking at Stats
With the Google URL Builder, you can better pinpoint where your website visitors come from, right down to specific Facebook posts.

Unique Ways to Track Posts from Website Visitors

As we mentioned before, it’s very difficult to track traffic from a link you don’t publish yourself. Other users can and often will share your posts by posting it on their own social platforms, linking to it from their website or sending it in an email.

These users ultimately get a say over what version of the URL they share (whether it has custom parameters or not). But, you can subtly encourage them to use the custom parameters you want by offering easy share links, like the ‘Tweet This’ card seen below:

Clicking on ‘Tweet This’ auto-populates your tweet with pre-drafted text, a custom URL, and the RWL twitter handle. Not only does this help us to track how this web feature is performing, it helps us track the traffic visitors are generating.

4 Types of Online Campaigns that Benefit Big from Custom URLs.

1. Ads

It’s not uncommon that you’ll share a link to the same page more than once on Facebook. But if you boost one of the link shares, how do you know the traffic if the traffic is organic or paid? With UTM codes.

2. Social Influencer Campaigns

You understand the power of influencer marketing, but how do you know which influencers are actually driving traffic to your site and generating conversions? With UTM codes you can easily track the performance of individual influencers, allowing you to make better investment decisions moving forward.

Woman on Smartphone
Social media platforms, like Instagram, have become a huge source of leads for businesses. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to distinguish where on that platform the leads are coming from. This is especially true for Instagram, where brands can share links via their profile and stories. Using the URL Builder you can distinguish which assets are driving inbound traffic.

3. Instagram Stories

Once you have at least 10K followers, you can add a link within your Instagram story. This feature has become a hugely successful tool for many marketers. But in order to know that link not only came from stories, but which story, you need to share a custom URL.

4. Guest Blog Posts

Guest blog posts can be an excellent way to create inbound links and build your online authority, both of which increase your site’s rank. Furthermore, guest posts can help you attract a bigger audience and grow your leads.

But, guest posts are an investment. It takes time to find a relevant and reputable site willing to accept your post. And then it takes time to draft and edit said post. So, you want to know which guests posts are sending traffic to your site.

Asking the site publishing your post to use a custom URL is an easy solution. This can be especially helpful if they are linking to your site in more than one instance.

Happy Collegues
By tracking your traffic, you can find opportunities to maximize your online efforts and increase leads.

Additional UTM Coding Insights

Don’t Double-Up on UTM Codes

Some platforms and tools, like many email providers, will automatically create custom URLs. If you are using a tool that does this, don’t insert your own UTM coded URL or you’ll skew your data.

Use a URL Shortner to Create a Prettier URL

Adding UTM code parameters to a URL can make it clunky and visually unappealing. Luckily, URL shortners like bit.ly give you a simple workaround. The shortened URL offers a much smaller and easily consumed bit of information, while still allowing Google to collect the same campaign data.

Another advantage of shortened URLs is that they work better in print. The fewer characters you ask a user to input, the more likely they are to do so. This is because not only are fewer characters less work, they present less room for error.

Get Help Utilizing Google’s URL Builder

Our creative team helps clients develop highly targeted online campaigns to increase leads and boost sales. In order to optimize our efforts, we regularly utilize Google’s URL Builder.

Let’s talk about how custom URLs could help your business.

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