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URL crawling with UTM parameters explained in a simple way

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URL crawling with UTM parameters explained in a simple way

With Google Analytics you can see from which source the clicks of a certain site or web page come. However, this analysis is imprecise and superficial. For example, you can only know that the traffic is coming from Twitter, but not if your own company's tweets were responsible. You also can't know exactly which of your call-to-action buttons generated the most clicks when both versions link to the same URL..

The solution to this problem is the UTM parameters.

  1. What are UTM parameters?
  2. How do UTM parameters work?
  3. UTM parameters in detail
    1. The three mandatory parameters
    2. The two optional parameters
    3. utm_source: referring to a web page or a platform
    4. utm_campaign: all links in a campaign
    5. utm_medium: advertisement or advertising medium
    6. utm_content: keep individual contents separate
    7. utm_term
  4. Configure UTM parameters
  5. Evaluate UTM parameters

What are UTM parameters?

The predecessor of Google Analytics was the Urchin Tracking Monitor, hence the abbreviation UTM. UTM parameters, also called UTM codes, are used in Google Analytics to identify the origin of each click: how many come from the last Facebook post? How many from display advertising ? What proportion is counted as Google organic searches? Etc..

Technically speaking, UTM parameters are nothing more than URL parameters (query strings) that are added to the URL. Here's an example (UTM parameters are highlighted):


This article on HTTP-Request explains the concept of URL parameters.

How do UTM parameters work?

Each of the various UTM parameters is identified by a prefix utm_. They consist of a pair of values ​​separated by an equal sign:


The values ​​are largely freely selectable. It is better to use common terms such as? Advertising ?,? Facebook ?,? Newsletter ?,? Internal ?, etc..

Individual parameters are chained, like any other query string, after an introductory question mark using &. In addition to UTM parameters, a query string can, of course, contain other URL parameters. Thanks to the utm_ prefix, Google knows? which parameters are intended for url crawling and pick them from the query string.

UTM parameters in detail

There are five UTM parameters, three of which are required:

The three mandatory parameters

If UTM parameters are specified, utm_source, utm_medium, and utm_campaign must always be used. For example, specifying only utm_campaign is not allowed.

The two optional parameters

utm_term and utm_content are optional parameters that can be added individually or omitted entirely.

The five parameters of the UTM are described in more detail below.

utm_source: referring to a web page or a platform

With utm_source you enter the web page or publication that was used to access the URL. It can be the name of a social network (for example, Facebook), the name of the sender (for example, Mailchimp), or a web page (for example, the name of a blog).

Info: It doesn't make sense to specify your own domain name as utm_source, as this would cause a mess in the parsing. Instead, a term like? Internal? Should be used. or similar.

utm_campaign: all links in a campaign

With this parameter, all the links that belong to a specific campaign are marked. This allows you to evaluate your Google Analytics campaign across all advertising channels and media. Assign a campaign name freely that is understandable enough for your entire team.

utm_medium: advertisement or advertising medium

Use this UTM parameter to encode the advertising or marketing medium. This can be the display ad , the newsletter or the blog post. Google recommends coding the medium in general and not being too specific:? Email ?,? Cpc ?,? Display ?,? Social ?, etc.

utm_content: keep individual contents separate

For example, if you have two display ads in the same campaign, the utm_campaign and utm_medium parameters are not enough to compare the performance of the two ads. This is where utm_content comes in: assign different content names to the two ads, for example utm_content = slogan1 and utm_content = slogan2.


With utm_term you specify the paid keyword that is linked to the PPC link. With Google ads, utm_term is not necessary because Google records this information itself. However, the parameter is useful for search engine advertising outside of the Google network - for example, on Bing? to be able to distinguish paid traffic from organic traffic.

Configure UTM parameters

The easiest way to configure the UTM parameters is to use the Campaign URL Builder.

With the information from the six text fields, the tool assembles the full URL (bottom of image).

The URL generated by the tool - technically a URL with a query string attached to it? it can be copied and pasted. In this example, the URL would be used as a call to action link for a promo email. To prevent the URL from? Killing? the user with detailed information, it can be shortened with the optional tool (button in the lower right corner of the screenshot). The button leads to Bitly, where you first have to create a user account.

Alternatively, you can go to the bitly tool manually and shorten your URL there yourself. The shortened URL would then look like this: bit.ly/2v8coHW

Evaluate UTM parameters

In Google Analytics you will find the values ​​of the UTM parameters that you have configured in? Acquisition? >? Campaigns? >? All campaigns? There, the parameters previously registered as primary or secondary analysis dimensions can be evaluated:? Campaign ?,? Source ?,? Medium? and? Source / Medium ?.


You can find more detailed explanations about Google Analytics in our general article about Google Analytics.