Earlier today, I read an article from my friends at LessEverything on how they track links.

UTM links are a great way to track how your campaigns are performing, and build on your successful campaigns over time. There's one pitfall many people fall into when using them:

They include campaign links on their own domain.

It seems like this would be a good idea, especially as a way to track your internal campaigns. The problem is this really messes up your overall analytics reporting.

Here's an example. Let's say you're running a site selling kitten socks, kittensocks.com. Your kitten socks are such a big hit, that you start selling kitten scarves, and share a blog post about it at kittensocks.com/blog/kitten-scarves.

Now, someone Googles 'kitten socks' and winds up on your site. They are reading and notice you also sell kitten scarves, and they get really excited and click through to your blog post. But your internal link takes them to:

kittensocks.com/blog/kitten-scarves?utm_medium=sidebar&utm_campaign=kittensocks.com&utm_content=kitten-scarves

It's no big deal to your visitor, they get to the page they want and might even convert to a customer at this point.

If you want to keep track of your referral data in Google Analytics, that internal link with a UTM is going to drive you batty! Instead of showing you a single conversion from an organic search, you'll have a visit from organic search that doesn't convert AND a separate referral from your own site with a conversion.

This is no bueno. Don't use UTM links to track activity on your own sites.

Bonus tip!!!

If you link out to someone you'd like to partner with, you can use your UTM link as a way to make them smile and maybe even start a conversation.

Every UTM link generates metadata Google Analytics translates for reports, so you can name your campaign something fun like 'Shane loves LessEverything' and anyone who clicks through will help share this message with your new friends.

Here's an example:
http://lesseverything.com/blog/archives/2015/10/21/how-we-track-links/?utm_source=shanerice&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=Shane%20loves%20LessEverything

If you've never used UTM links before, Google has a handy creator that will help make sure you include everything you need to track how your campaigns perform.