If you want to use UTM tags but you’ve only gotten as far as bookmarking Google’s Campaign URL Builder tool, then this blog is for you. Here are some basic do’s and don’ts to help you get started:


DO use UTM tags to track custom campaigns

If you’re only using UTM tags to track paid campaigns, you’re missing out on a lot of useful data and insights. Just about all off-site efforts should be treated like separate campaigns. Shared links on social media, links included in email blasts, your website URL on Google My Business–all should be tagged in order to better track their individual results.


DON’T use them for internal links

Not all links should be tagged though. Do not, I repeat, do not add UTM tags to internal links. If you do, a click on the link will trigger a new session in Google Analytics, which will undoubtedly muck up your site’s metrics by creating redundancies and distorting the attribution source.


DO use mediums that Google Analytics recognizes

While “URL” and “Source” are the only required fields in Google’s Campaign URL Builder, we highly recommend that you include the “Medium” as well. There’s a handful of mediums that Google Analytics already recognizes and it’s in your best interest to adhere to the predefined variables such as “organic,” “cpc,” “email,” “referral,” and “social.” (FYI: the medium name is case sensitive too). If you opt to go rogue, traffic may end up separated out from its natural habitat. For example, if you label the medium for a link contained in an email as “eBlast,” that traffic will no longer appear in the email bucket–making it that much more difficult to inspect traffic at a higher level.


DON’T give campaigns vague and generic names

Campaign” is another optional field we recommend filling in. The more information you include in the UTM tag the deeper you can dive into the available metrics. By including the “Campaign” name you’ll be able to better differentiate what is and what is not working, assuming you’ve labeled it correctly. For instance, if your email blasts include links, wouldn’t you want to know which email blast people are coming from? Knowing traffic came from email alone doesn’t really tell you much. Likewise, calling the “Campaign” something vague like “May-Email-” isn’t all that helpful in the long run either. Instead, use the “Campaign” field to describe the product, service, or promotion being offered (e.g. “Spring-Sale”).


DO use the built-in minify feature in Google’s Campaign URL Builder

Sharing the generated campaign URL in a hyperlink is easy and it doesn’t matter how long the link is. But when you’re displaying the URL, the link can look unruly with the UTM tag tacked on the end, which is where the “Convert URL to Short Link” option comes in handy. Take advantage of that built-in feature when sharing links in YouTube video descriptions, Tweets, and the like.


DON’T forget to use UTM tags

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it bears repeating. In order for UTM tags to work, you need to actually use them. Without UTM tags, the results from your various off-site efforts will remain camouflaged among the rest of your site’s data in Google Analytics. Properly track your campaigns by remembering to including UTM tags on all off-site links pointing back to your website.


To learn more about best practices and the implementation and tracking of UTM tags, download the free PCG Research Report: Google UTM Guide for Automotive Digital Marketing Professionals.

About the Author

Jamie Paton is a Project Manager at PCG Digital Marketing by day and a TV connoisseur by night. As an SEO strategist she spends a lot of quality time on social media sites and with Google Analytics and Search Console.