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The View Source weekly series offers 10-minute projects on intermediate and advanced web design topics, covering technologies such as HTML, PHP, jQuery, and CSS, as well as content management solutions like WordPress and integration with Twitter, YouTube, and more. Each movie in the course is self-contained and shows how to accomplish an interesting effect and/or technique. Example projects include creating datepickers and custom photo galleries, and mapping and geotagging with Google Maps.
Hello! This is Ray Villalobos and welcome to View Source! In this episode, I am going to show you how to track just about anything with Google Analytics, using tools like the Google URL Shortener and the Google URL Builder. So if you need to know where your visitors come from, then it's time to View Source. It's really hard to tell exactly how people get to your site. If you've got Google Analytics one way to see where traffic comes from is by looking at the traffic source's area. So I am going to click on Standard Reporting and I am going to open up Traffic Sources and select All Traffic.
Then I am going to look at the list that it gives me right here, and I see that a large part of our traffic comes from a direct source which doesn't really tell me where people are coming from. That means that people are somehow getting to your site and you're not getting any feedback as to where they came from. So I'm going to show you a couple of tips that you can use to track where people are coming from using a couple of other Google tools. The URL Builder is designed to simplify the process of creating special URLs that add campaign, medium and other information to your Google Analytics pages.
So you could simply fill out the information, and if this is a page within your own web site, you can simply type in the page that you want to track, say the homepage of our web site, and then track where this is coming from. So say that you are building a campaign to ask people in Twitter to come to your web site. You can type a Campaign Source here saying that this is a Twitter campaign and then a Campaign Medium which would be how did people get to this campaign. So if you're running a banner, campaign or an email blast campaign you can type that in here. For a Twitter campaign I am just going to type in, clicksintwitter.
And the last piece of information that you definitely have to fill out because it's required, is just a Campaign Name. Now once you fill all that information out, you click on this Generate URL, and the URL Builder will give you a special URL that has name and value pairs with that information. You could create that information yourself by using this URL, but the URL Builder just makes it easier for you to fill all that information out. So everything we typed in here, the campaign name is right here, the utm_medium is right in here, and the utm_source is over here.
Once you create the link, you can copy the URL and use it instead of just the main URL to your web site. That way you'll know where people came from for that specific campaign. Unfortunately, as you can see these links can get really long and that's where that Google URL Shortener comes in. So I'm going to copy this long URL, and I'm going to switch to the Google URL Shortener, and in here I can paste my very long URL and the URL does not have to be from our own web site, it can be from any other web site that you want to track links to. You could hit the Shorten link.
You will see that it will automatically add that to a list of shortened URLs that we created in the past. The Shortener provide statistics for any link that you generate. One of the really interesting features about the Shortener is that you can click on Details, in addition to reports of the campaign, you can actually get a QR code. You could save this QR code and use it on physical items. Just right-click and hit Save Image As, and then put it somewhere on your desktop, and then you can access that image and paste it into any physical campaign.
If they have the right application, people can scan that with their phone and they will be directed to the web site you specified, and at the same time if you use the URL Builder, you can track specifically that those people came from a physical item. So as you can see, this particular campaign I scanned with my mobile phone, it happened to be an iPhone so you can get reports of the different platforms, the browsers and where people came from when they were scanning the QR code. So if we go back into my traffic patterns, you could see that if we look for Campaigns under Traffic Sources we should see the campaign data here.
Unfortunately, I performed that scan early in the morning and right now my range happens to be yesterday. So I am going to switch this over, and double-click on today's date to set the range for today only, and then hit the Apply button. Now I can see my single click that was generated from my QR campaign that I scanned from my phone. We can see the campaigns by either Campaign Name, the Source, and the Medium that we specified earlier. So this is a great way of not only creating URLs that you can use in your campaigns, but also QR codes that you can use on physical items and then track how effective those have been.
So instead of just creating QR codes, make sure you create QR codes that have campaigns attached to them so that you can track them within your Google Traffic. The other way to use the URL Shortener is to create links outside your web site that you wouldn't normally get metrics for, you can use it to track mentions to external web sites and see how well outgoing campaigns are doing. So see you next time and remember that if you google yourself and you are not in the top ten results, then you know you've got to spend more time with View Source.
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