One of the first things we do for a new SEO client, as part of the Discovery phase, is add UTM tracking code to their Google My Business (GMB) profile.
What is UTM tracking code?
UTM tracking – Urchin Tracking Module – is code you add to the end of a URL for a page on a website. In this article we’re going to demonstrate how to add UTM tracking to the URL in a Google My Business profile – and why it’s important to do this.
More often than not, this will be a websites homepage.
A Knowledge Panel is the section of a search engine results page (SERP) that sometimes appears for a branded search query (aka keyword), either on the right hand side on desktop devices, or as the first thing you see on mobile (as below).
A Local Pack (below) is the map result which appears on some SERPs, often with location-based intent, between the sponsored listings at the top and the organic listings below.
The Local Finder is what you see when you click on the More places link at the bottom of a Local Pack.
When you click on a business listing in either the Local Pack or Local Finder, you are taken through to the Google My Business page where there is, amongst other things, a link to a website.
So you might be wondering why we’re recommending you add this UTM tracking.
It’s all about access to more accurate reporting and what you can learn from the data in these reports.
Essentially there are two reasons.
First, the data that will be made available via your Search Console, will provide you with more useful and accurate insight into how visitors arrived at your website. You can then use this information to help optimise your Google My Business profile and the content on your website.
Second, your Google Analytics acquisition data will more accurately record how people arrived at your site. If you don’t add this tracking, some of your organic traffic will likely be recorded as direct traffic.
I might add another, it’s incredibly straightforward to set it up and you only need to do it once.
Or is that two more? Nevermind, let’s crack on.
So hopefully you’ll agree that adding the tracking code is important, next we’ll show how you can add the tracking code yourself and what you can learn from making this change.
Is the UTM tracking code already there?
First you need to ascertain whether or not UTM tracking code has already been added to your Google My Business website URL.
There are two ways to do this.
You could either login to your Google My Business profile. On desktop click on Info on the left hand side menu and scroll down to the Website section of the main page.
If you’re using the Google My Business App, click on the Profile tab as below.
If you have some additional code after your Website URL, then it’s highly likely someone has added this tracking code for you already.
The other way to check, which only works on desktop devices, is by conducting a search for your business and clicking on the Website button in your Knowledge Panel.
If a Knowledge Panel isn’t displayed, but your business does appear in a Local Pack or Local Finder, you may need to click on your business listing first particularly in you’re using a mobile, then the Website button.
If you see UTM tracking code appended to the URL when your website is opened in a new browser window (as below), then it’s already been added.
How to add UTM tracking code to your Google My Business listing
If you don’t have tracking code added already, the instructions that follow will show you how to add it.
There’s also a handy video below which is also available via our YouTube channel.
First you need to create the tracking code by visiting the Campaign URL Builder website.
Complete all the fields as per the screenshot below – substituting in the URL you want to use to the Website URL field – and hit the Copy URL button.
- The Website URL should be the address you ultimately want visitors to go to
- The Campaign Source is going to be ‘google’ (note that all the fields should be completed in lower case)
- The Campaign Medium is ‘organic’
- The Campaign Name is any code you want to add which will help you understand why this UTM tracking code was created. In this instance it’s ‘gmbwebsite’. If you were adding tracking code to another field in your GMB profile – for example the Appointment URL, you might use ‘gmbappointment’ instead – but it’s completely up to you.
To add the code to your GMB profile…
- First login
- Then select the profile you want to add it to, if you have more than one profile on your account
- Once selected, choose Info from the left hand menu
- Then select the Website field by clicking on the Pencil icon to the right
- Paste the complete code in the field below where it says Website – replacing what’s currently there.
Note it can take up to three days for Google to apply the change, but usually it takes a lot less than this.
You’ll know when the change has applied because the full URL with tracking code will be what you see when you click on a link to your website from your Knowledge Panel or Local Pack listing, as a result of a Google Search, as below.
What you can learn after you have added the tracking code
First you’ll need to allow up to 28 days to have a significant amount of data to read from. Waiting at least three months would be even better, but if you can’t wait until then follow the instructions below to collect the data.
We are assuming first that you have a verified Google Search Console property. If you don’t, this is the next thing you need to do.
Once you’re logged in, open the Performance report. By default you’ll be provided with access to three months worth of data. You can change the date range at the top of the screen.
Click on Pages below the graph. By default this shows the top 10 Performing pages on your website. Performance is measured in Clicks – so the Pages are ordered by most to least Clicks.
A reminder that Clicks are the number of times a visitor clicked on a link to content or the website address on the SERPs. Impressions are the number of times the content was returned on the SERPs in this period.
If the website address with the UTM tracking code is not immediately visible this means it’s not one of your top 10 performing pages. You can either select more rows to be displayed or perform a filter as per the screenshot below.
Either way, once you’ve found the page with the tracking code, click on it and then click on the Queries tab.
Once again, by default this shows the top 10 queries that brought visitors to this page in this period, ordered by most to least Clicks, and then by Impressions.
Before you export this data you might decide to include CTR and Average Position data too. You can do this by clicking on these data fields above the graph so all four are highlighted, as below.
Then you’re ready to download to a csv or Google Sheets.
The sheet will show the queries and associated data that brought visitors to the URL added to your GMB profile. These are visits from users that clicked on a link to your website in either the Knowledge Panel, Local Pack or Local Finder.
What can you learn from this data
First, you have an overview of the number of recorded clicks to the page you’ve assigned via your Google My Business profile. You can see at a glance how many users visited as a result of clicking on a link in a Knowledge Panel/Local Pack/Finder.
You might decide to download Search Console data for the same page, without the UTM tracking code. Then you can compare number of visits as a result of the user clicking on a link in a Knowledge Panel or Local Pack, with visits from users who clicked on a link in a content snippet in the organic listings.
Whilst these data sets don’t provide much insight alone, as they only relate to one period of time, you might decide to track this information monthly to monitor performance over time.
Remember, if your business listing is being returned via a Knowledge Panel or in a Local Pack/Finder, for searches that are important to your business, and you’re getting enquiries as a result, you’ll be looking to maintain these positions. Whilst there are any number of tracking tools available, there’s no substitute for getting this click data directly from source, as it is here.
You might then decide to drill down further into the data available for each page, and compare and contrast.
First it’s worth highlighting that the number of recorded clicks for the page is unlikely to match the number of clicks recorded when you drill down into the query data. It’s likely to be far less, perhaps fewer than 50%. That’s just the way it is.
Analysing this data is likely to highlight opportunities and threats, which should provide you or your SEO agency/consultant, with valuable insight from which you or they can provide some recommendations.
Where else can tracking code be applied?
You can apply tracking code in the same way to the Appointment URL in your GMB profile or any Google Posts you may publish. Whilst there is Click data readily available for the latter in GMB insights, we’ve noticed that this doesn’t always tally with the data we collect when we’ve added UTM tracking codes to Posts.
So there you have it. We’ve explained in this article why it’s important to add UTM tracking code to your GMB profile, how to do it, how to download the data from your Search Console, and also how to potentially analyse the code to again useful insight.
Main image by goranmx