I recently attended a Google Analytics training class, in San Francisco, put on by Cardinal Path. And now I’m here to share with the world how Google Analytics can benefit and complement your PR efforts.

A constant obstacle in PR is measuring value. How do you prove to your client that an expert column on Entrepreneur.com is valuable to them? One easy way is via traffic to their website. The client should value traffic to their website (even if they don’t have ecommerce) because visits to a website translates into customers. Once they’ve landed on your website, it’s much easier to get them to do something. It’s like inviting someone into your home, once they smell the delicious muffins you are baking, they are going to want to try one. But before they are even in the house, how are you going to get them to try a muffin?

So, how can you prove to your client that what you’re doing is bringing them web traffic? There are 2 ways this can be done with Google Analytics:

# 1 Referral Traffic

This is definitely the easiest way to show a client that your article generated traffic to their website. To do this, make sure your client either gives you log in access to their Google Analytics or makes your Google account an admin/user on their account.

Once they do this, go into their Google Analytics profile and navigate to the “Traffic Sources” report. Then go to Overview < Sources < Referrals. This new page will show you the percentage of overall visits that referrals account for (at the top).

At the bottom of the page you will see a table with the referral sources listed. An example of a referral source would be “nytimes.com.” You can see on the right hand side of each source the number of visits resulted from that link on that website as well as average visit duration, bounce rate…etc. You can filter by date (up at the top) in order to report to your client weekly (or however often) how many visits their website received based on that article you placed on nytimes.com.

But what about tracking referrals from stories that are set to appear in print, you ask? In that case, you would use campaign tracking:

# 2 Campaign Tracking

Let’s say you know that you’re pitching a certain reporter a special Valentine’s Day story that’s going to be featured in the print edition. This is how you would set up the campaign:

If this story is placing on their websites, then you don’t need to worry about this, but if you know the story is going to appear in print and the reporter has graciously agreed to put a URL in the printed story to your client’s website, this is what you want to do: generate a specific tagged link for that reporter. To create a special link, use the Google Analytics URL builder tool:

Input the actual website url: [yourclientswebsite.com]

Campaign source:  new york times

Campaign medium: placement

Campaign term: (N/A)

Campaign content: (N/A)

Campaign Name: valentine’s day

Then generate your URL. It’s going to be a big bad ugly mess (example):


You definitely don’t want to send that to the reporter (plus, what human being is going to spend the time typing that into their browser?). What you want to do is create a vanity URL which would be something like: theabbiagency.com/valentinesday that redirects (301 redirect, not 302!) to the super long campaign link (above).

Now you’ll be able to track on Google Analytics how many people came to your website as a result of that placement in the New York Times print edition.

Whether you go the simple route (referral traffic) or the slightly more complicated route (campaign tracking), you’ll be able to tell the client exactly how much traffic that placement in the New York Times web & print editions generated to their website.

Ta da!