How to Use UTM Parameters in Google Ads

Tracking your performance from your Google Ads account is crucial for determining whether or not you’re achieving your goals. Especially in a world where attribution is increasingly becoming the weakest link in marketing reports. UTM parameters in Google Ads enable you to capture attribution information that gives you important insights into ad performance.

In this article, we’ll go over what UTM parameters are and how you can add UTM tracking to your Google Ads account. If you just want to know how to set up UTM in Google Ads, please skip to the section called “Setting Up UTM Parameters in Google Ads”. 

Otherwise, the information below can help you figure out how to use UTM parameters effectively to get the attribution information you need.

What are UTM Parameters?

UTM parameters help marketers track the performance of Google Ads campaigns, ad, ad extensions, and keywords. If we get a little technical, UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module which is a snippet of text you can add at the end of a URL. This information can then be passed on to your CRM or accessed in your Google Analytics account.

The value of using UTM parameters is that you can define what value to send to your CRM so you can match it back to your campaign. 

Common UTM parameters & Tips for UTM Setup

  • Campaign – defines the name of the campaign (ex. BrandTerms)
  • Source – tells you what website your traffic came from (ex. Google, Bing, Facebook, TikTok, etc)
  • Medium – tells you what type of traffic you are getting (ex. SEM, SEO, SocialMedia, etc)
  • Term – identifies the keyword(s) that you’re using. This is primarily used for SEM campaigns.
  • Content – tracks the content that brought the user to a specific destination (in most cases this is the ad)
  • There are a lot of other things you can track as well that are defined along with some custom parameters that you can create in your Google Ads campaigns. Here’s a list of the different utms you can use in Google Ads.

You can add a static value like the campaign name or keyword to start with. To make things easier for you, it’s good to have consistent naming conventions so you can effectively add utms to your new campaigns, ad, and keywords. 

Don’t repeat names or use UTMs that are hard to read, otherwise you might just make it more difficult to analyze your results. 

If you have something like a term that changes frequently, it can be good to use dynamic values. The prior list we provided gives the dynamic values, though here are some common dynamic UTM values that we have liked to use:

  • Campaign Name: {_campaignname}
  • Keyword: {keyword}
  • Placement (this will tell you where your ads were placed which is useful for display or youtube ads): {placement}
  • Campaign Id (good if you want to automatically match back data from Google Ads to your CRM): {campaignid}
  • Gclid (probably one of the most useful UTMS that will pass back the Google click identifier of a click that comes from your ads. More details here, this allows you to setup offline tracking to import conversion actions from a CRM into your account): {gclid}
  • There are several others in this list you can use as well depending upon what you need to accomplish.

If you’re finding that UTM setup for your account is becoming difficult or you’re not able to track back results from your campaign for some reason. Then feel free to book a free consultation where we can review your tracking needs.

Google also made it easier for all of us by creating a tool to create your own URL with UTMs included here. See the following below (it’s pretty easy to use and can save you a TON of time).

Over the years, we have developed UTM builders for our clients. They are very easy to do with concatenation formulas and can save you/your team even more time with some additional excel/gsheet skills.

On top of setting up UTMs, you should enable auto-tagging in your account to get the most detailed information from Google Ads for Google Analytics. 

Setting up UTM Parameters in Google Ads

Once you’ve gotten your URLs ready to go with UTMs, here’s how you can add them to different levels of your account.

Setting up UTMs at the Campaign Level:

  1. Go into the campaign you want to set up UTM in.
  2. Click on the settings in the left menu dropdown.
  3. Click on additional campaigns settings then go to “campaign url options”
  4. From there you can set up your tracking template (everything after the ? – just use {lpurl} at the beginning of your tracking template)
  5. You can also define specific UTM parameters and a Final URL suffix depending upon your tracking needs.

Setting up UTMs at the Ad or Ad Extension Level:

  1. In both cases you can go into your ad or ad extension. Then click edit and add a url with utms at the end of the url that you set up using Google’s custom tool or a tool you can make in excel/gsheets.
  2. If you want to use the tracking template you can click on url options at the bottom of the extension and add your tracking template. In both cases, the same UTM setup applies here like it did for your campaign level tracking.

Setting up UTMs at the Keyword Level:

  1. Click on the keyword page in your campaign or account
  2. Add the “Tracking Template” column to your table.
    1. Click on the column icon above the statistics table, then click Modify columns.
    2. Expand the “Attributes” option and click “Tracking Template”
    3. Click Apply
  3. Use the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom to scroll across the table to find the added column.  
  4. Hover over any entry in the new “Tracking template” column, and click when the pencil icon appears.
  5. Enter {lpurl}, a question mark, and then any ValueTrack parameters you want to use, separated by ampersands (&). For example, if you want to use the {matchtype} parameter, your tracking template would be: {lpurl}?matchtype={matchtype}
  6. Click Save.

Bulk Editing UTMs in Google Ads Editor:

If you don’t have it, we would highly recommend downloading Google Ads Editor today to make edits to your account. From here you can go under each campaign, ad, and keyword section to make edits.

Either that or you can create an excel spreadsheet with the campaigns, ads, and/or keywords you want to edit with additional UTM information. Then bulk upload all of this information in one go. This is for more advanced Google Ads experts as you can be prone to more upload mistakes at scale. 

If you want support with bulk editing UTMs in your account. Then please feel free to reach out to us to set up some time.

Even though UTMs can help you improve the accuracy of your reporting, there are some common issues that can limit how effective your UTMs are. 

Common UTM Setup Issues to Look Out For

  1. Mistagging your URL with improper information. (ex. Labeling the Source Facebook instead of Google)
  2. Mixing lower & uppercase letters. UTMs are case sensitive so you should be consistent with your formatting.
  3. Making UTM values difficult to read. As we mentioned, this can make it harder to interpret attribution in your reports.
  4. Incorrectly using ?, &, {}, & # values in the wrong places. This can lead to UTMs not working correctly.
  5. Not testing your tagged links before using them in your account.
  6. Create unique names for your campaigns to distinguish them and track them across different attributes (ex. Source/Medium).
  7. Confusing Source & Medium is a classic mistake. If you do this, you’re not alone but your reporting might be off. Here are the definitions one more time for the sake of clarity.
    1. Source – shows where the URL exists on your site. Anything with a .com/.org/.net etc basically is a source such as
    2. Medium – shows the source type. Google Analytics has default channel definitions to clarify what mediums it uses to bucked different sources together. Some examples of common mediums are affiliate, cpc, partners, display, social, email.)
  8. Not allowing your manual tagging to override your auto-tagging. This is an easy fix, but if you don’t do it, then Google Analytics might have some data discrepancies if you have both in your account.
    1. Just go into your Google Analytics account. 
    2. Click on Admin in your relevant property.
    3. Click Property Settings.
    4. Under Advanced Settings, select Allow manual tagging (UTM values) to override auto-tagging (GCLID values).
    5. Then click save

Final Thoughts on UTM Parameters in Google Ads

UTM parameters are one of the most reliable tracking tools you can use to gain insights into your Google Ads attribution. The correct setup can be the difference between having better insights and hours of trial/error.

If you’re still having trouble setting up utms and want to save time setting utms in your account, then you should book a free consultation with us today. We can help you with your utm setup needs.

Centaur Consulting Group

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