The Secret of Tracking Yahoo! Keyword Data in Google Analytics

Pay-per-click marketing and web analytics – they go together like peas and carrots. Why you ask? Because the reports provided by the PPC search engines aren’t always enough! Services like Google Analytics provide advertisers with a wealth of knowledge for fine-tuning and perfecting their paid-search campaigns. This includes data like bounce rate, time on site or goal funnel visualizations. For advertisers who are using Analytics in tandem with their AdWords PPC account, the process for tracking data is a cinch. Google has an auto-tagging feature that will pull all of your PPC data into Analytics – including keyword level data. The question then becomes, “How do I track this data for my Yahoo! Search Marketing PPC campaigns?” Today I’m going to quickly explain how you can build custom tracking URLs to get the same comprehensive data for Yahoo!.

The first step is to head on over to the trusty Google Analytics URL Builder. This tool will let you input your landing page and variables including term (keyword), name (campaign), source (search engine), medium (cpc vs. email or organic) and content (ad version). After you manually input your data, the URL builder will provide you with a full tracking URL that you can copy/paste into your Yahoo! ads. Here’s a quick example:

  • Landing page:
  • Variables: Source is Yahoo!, medium is CPC, term is PPC Hero, campaign is Tracking URLs and content is Best Blog Ad 1.
  • Custom Tracking URL: &utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=ppc%2Bhero &utm_content=best%2Bblog%2Bad%2B1&utm_campaign=tracking%2Burls

This example would basically only work for a single keyword and a single ad text. If you have the time to create a separate URL for every keyword in your Yahoo! account, all I can say is go for it! If you’re like me, you need a much quicker process for capturing data. It just so happens that Yahoo! has an auto-tagging feature. In your account, go to the Administration tab and click on Tracking URLs. Select the option Tracking URLs On and save changes. This will tell Yahoo! to append your destination URLs with information ranging from the keyword you bid on, to the actual search query and account specific information like campaign and ad group IDs.


How do you pull this information into Analytics? It’s relatively easy. If you look at the custom tracking URL example above, you will need to make modifications to the term, content and campaign variables. You will need to insert Yahoo!’s identifiers into each of these variables to pull the auto-tagged information into Analytics. Some of the basics include {OVKEY} for the paid keyword, {OVRAW} for the actual search query, {OVADID} for the ad text ID number and {OVCAMPGID} for the campaign ID numer. Here’s another quick example:

  • Old Tracking URL: &utm_term=ppc%2Bhero&utm_content=best%2Bblog%2Bad%2B1 &utm_campaign=tracking%2Burls
  • New Variables: Term is {OVKey}, content is {OVADID} and campaign is {OVCAMPGID}.
  • New Tracking URL: &utm_term={OVKEY}&utm_content={OVADID}&utm_campaign={OVCAMPGID}

Now you can use this customized destination URL for an entire campaign (if applicable) and you will still pull detailed information into Analytics. I should point out that using Yahoo!’s auto-tagging identifiers will only produce real data if you have turned auto-tagging ON in your account! Otherwise all of your Yahoo! PPC visitors will register keywords as {OVKEY}. And trust me when I say, that isn’t very helpful. Discovering this process and putting it to use in my Yahoo! Search Marketing accounts has proved to be an invaluable asset. I would recommend to everyone reading this blog to set this up for your accounts as soon as you get the chance! And check in next week – I’ll explain how to do this for your MSN adCenter PPC accounts, too!

***UPDATE:  We’ve written an updated post on URL tagging for Yahoo! Search Marketing campaigns.  Check it out to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date information!***