Google Analytics can give you a great deal of information about your digital experience — setting it up correctly is key. The correct set up doesn’t have to be overly complicated either, or require a degree in data science ;)

The starting point for everyone when they’re exploring the questions, Where does my traffic come from? start with probably the most important Report in Google Analytics, and it’s found in the Acquisition report:

Go to: Acquisition > All Traffic > Source / Medium

You might also look at the Channel report. Either one of these reports will tell you where users are coming from. So, how does Google Analytics group traffic by Source /Medium?

Google can grab referring data from users about where they were just before arriving at your digital experience. For example, a user sees one of your banner ads and they click on it. Google will have the referring data associated with that click. The same applies to other channels. For example, clicks on organic search results, or a link in an email from your organization.

When there is no referring data for Google to work with it, the traffic will still show up in Google Analytics, but the Source / Medium will be (direct) / (none) — not so terribly helpful, and therein lies the opportunity.

UTM Tagging

UTM tagging is a fantastic way to tell Google what the referring data is. This is done through specifiying parameters in the UTM tag.

UTM Parameter Examples

Campaign Source


This parameter is required.

Use utm_source to identify a search engine, newsletter name, or other source.

Example: july-newsletter

Campaign Medium


Use utm_medium to identify a medium such as email or cost-per- click.

Example: email

Campaign Name


Used for keyword analysis. Use utm_campaign to identify a specific product promotion or strategic campaign.

Example: summer-pPromotion

Campaign Term


Used for paid search. Use utm_term to note the keywords for this ad.

Example: home+renovation

Campaign Content


Used for A/B testing and content-targeted ads. Use utm_content to differentiate ads or links that point to the same URL.

Examples: logolink or textlink

The two most important parameters are medium and source — this would be the most basic set up. These UTM parameters will tell Google where to put the visit in the Google Analytics reporting.
This is really useful when you’re running search engine marketing campaigns, like an email campaign. Use UTM tagging on campaigns where you have control over the link. It will help you to measure performance and outcomes of the sources of traffic.

Here’s a super useful resources for creating your UTM tagging:

Tip: If you’re using UTM tagging extensively, then it be good to take a methodical approach to the name of the parameters. Luna Metrics has a Google sheet that you can make a copy, and use for your UTM tagging campaign management.

A very intuitive resource to help you manage UTM tagging. It will also create the link for you so that all you have to do is copy and paste.

Main Photo by Philip Brown on Unsplash