Google Base and Google Product Search are great tools that can drive relevant, and free traffic to your product listings.
While we’re sure everyone reading is familiar with the potential value of these services, my conversations with merchants of all sizes lead me to believe that there is definite confusion regarding the best way to track traffic from Base and Product Search using Google Analytics.
The confusion doesn’t appear limited to just webmasters either. Google’s own Base team posted an entry on their blog last year suggesting the following:
At first glance, it would seem tracking listings from Google Base would be simple. However, since Base listings often appear within the regular search results on Google, it can be tricky to differentiate traffic from the two sources. One way to differentiate traffic is to create unique landing pages on your website specifically for Base listings. You can do this by simply creating two versions of the same page on your website, but giving one a slightly different name. Here’s an example:
Regular landing page: http://example.com/page1.html
Unique Base landing page: http://example.com/page2.html
By creating two versions of the same page on your website and submitting the unique landing page URLs to Base, Google Analytics can show you exactly how much traffic is being sent to your website from Base.
Creating separate pages for Base Traffic? Not only would this be extremely time consuming, particularly for merchants with high amounts of product listings, but it stands in direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines according to Google, and ultimately would result in a drop in natural search traffic/relevancy-
So what is a merchant to do? Luckily the engineers working on Google’s Analytics product had good foresight and have a very simple method to create custom source attribution in Google Analytics. Simply append this string:
to the end of your URLs, and Google Analytics will be able to track any incoming traffic originating from Google Base.
For more information on how UTM Attribution works check out the Google Analytics Q and A documentation.