So you’ve got Google Analytics (GA), maybe even Google Tag Manager (GTM), installed on your site and the analytics are pouring in. This is a great first step, but at some point you may realize that some things on your site don’t get tracked by the standard Google Analytics tracking code. Thankfully, GA is an incredibly flexible tool. With some light coding from your front-end developer, GA can track just about anything.

When requesting custom tracking code from your developer, you may first want to familiarize yourself with the difference between Events and Page Views so that you know which to ask for. In general, Page Views should be used when content is displayed that is conceptually equivalent to a page, with its own topic and representing a unique and meaningful step in a visitor’s path through your site. Events should be used for interactions within a page, like tabbed content, video interaction and form fill activity.

What are some actions on your site currently getting ignored by Google Analytics that you may want to track? Here is the list we think all site owners should consider tracking.

Dynamically Loaded Content

If there interactions on your site that show content without changing the part of the URL between “http” and the # character, this is considered dynamic content and GA will not pick it up without some help. Whether an Event or Page View best captures these actions depends on whether the content is conceptually equivalent to a page view or is an engagement component within a page, like tabbed content or additional specification details on a product page.

Search Interactions

If your site includes a search feature, knowing what visitors are searching for is a great way to understand visitor intent and uncover opportunities for content development and keyword optimization. And if search is a primary navigation method on your site, understanding exactly how visitors engage with it is key to optimizing the user experience. Basic keyword search is formally supported by GA with its own report, but does require some minor configuration. If your search includes filters or facets, these can be additionally captured as Events.

Downloads

You may be surprised to find that GA does not track file downloads by default. While you probably don’t want to track every single image and resource file downloaded, tracking important downloads like PDFs and zip files is important. You can choose to track individual files, or use more general code that tracks any links clicked in a certain media folder or files ending in certain extensions.

External Links

Just like file downloads, knowing when you’re passing visitors off to another site can be valuable. Similar to tracking code that keys on certain file extensions, a bit of regular expression code can track a click on any link that isn’t to the current site’s domain.

Video Interaction

Production of video is costly and time consuming, but it’s impact on conversions is undeniable. If you’re investing in video on your site, you’ll want to know if visitors are actually viewing them, and how much of each video they’re viewing. This is a fairly common use of Events in GA and is supported by some of the hosted video content vendors and the big HTML5 video player libraries.

Form Fills

Using GA Events to track form interactions and submissions provides a lot more insight into visitor behavior than a simple landing page conversion tracker. How many visitors start to complete the form but drop off without submitting? What fields do they typically give up on? These are great questions to ask if you’re looking to increase lead form conversions.

Hopefully these tips get you thinking about the interactive components of your own site and how to leverage GA custom tracking to gain deeper insights into visitor behavior.

Welcome back to part 2 of our Usability Testing series. Hopefully you’ve spent some time identifying your website’s goals, collecting data, and recording user interactions with your website. If you actually have been looking at the user data you’ve been collecting (and not binge-watching Season 3 of Narcos) you may actually find it a little bit daunting. Google Analytics is a powerhouse full of numbers and graphs which are difficult to translate into user actions, while HotJar just feels like you’re watching a bunch of small children wiggle the cursor around clicking on random things on your website seemingly with the only goal to confuse you.

Here’s a few tips on what to look for when you analyze the data from Google Analytics:

Site Search – this was mentioned in Part 1 and worth mentioning again. Hopefully this is properly configured in GA because it tells you exactly what people typed into your website’s internal search. You can use this as a gauge to see what users are either trying to find or trying to get to quickly. If you find your eCommerce site has a large number of people are searching for a specific item, it could mean that you may have a problem with your site’s navigation or it’s just plain too difficult to find. This is where Hotjar comes in handy and can back up your theories.

Behavior Flow – this was another aspect mentioned in part 1. This is a visual and interactive representation of your user’s interaction paths while browsing your site. It shows you where users first landed on your website and where they dropped off. Look for pages where there is a large drop off of users. Collaborate with your recordings to see if you can identify why.

Site Content > All Pages – take a look at Bounce Rate, Entrances, and % Exits in this view. Single out which pages have high bounce rates and high percentages of Exits. Ask yourself why people may be bouncing and exiting from these pages.

In HotJar, watch as many recordings as you can stomach. It can be tough watching so many back to back to back so take notes and be sure to write down anything interesting that happens. What you’re keeping your eye out for are patterns.

Are you noticing a lot of users “hunting” for something specific? Do they seem like they’re lost?

This is a telltale sign of issues with your navigation and possibly they layout of your site. Nowadays, most websites are developed, designed, and built with the Buyer’s Journey in mind. It’s picked up a lot popularity the past few years with most sites incorporating this inbound marketing technique. If your site is older than a few years or was built without your customer’s buyer journey in mind, then your navigation may need some work.

Are they exiting the site after reaching a particular page/s?

If the pages you found that your Analytics data collaborates with your HotJar recordings, pay close attention to what those users were doing about could have possibly been looking for.

Are users they abandoning carts during checkout or not filling out forms on your site after partially filling them out? Are users abandoning the cart/form at a certain step?

You want the customer checkout process to go as quickly and be as short as possible. You don’t want to give them time to second guess their purchase. Offer customer to checkout as a guest rather than forcing them to make an account if it’s their first time. For mobile users make sure the numerical keyboard pops up when entering number only fields (credit card numbers, zip codes, phone numbers). Give the users a progress bar so they can see how far in the checkout process they are. Give them the option to save their cart to continue shopping/checking out later. They’ll appreciate all these small optimizations.

Are users leaving your site due to slow load times?

If you’ve noticed that people are leaving your site after waiting a long time for pages to load, then it may be time to speak to your hosting company or your developers to optimize the speed of your site. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a great tool to leverage here. It scans your site and finds optimizations which you can forward to your developers. Just remember, the longer a page takes to load, the chance of users giving up and going elsewhere goes up exponentially. Google judges their mobile speeds based on 3G standards, not LTE. Keep that in mind when testing mobile speeds.

These are ideas just to get your critical thinking juices flowing. Every website is going to be unique and have different needs, goals, products, and customers.

What Part 2 boils down to is actually very simple: Take all your raw data and translate it into actionable items. Keep asking yourself, “How can I make this experience easier for my customers?” A lot of times it’s as simple as getting out of your own way.

Many websites utilize Google Analytics to capture, process, configure, and report on their website traffic and metrics. In 2012, Google launched Tag Manager- “a free tool that consolidates your website tags with a single snippet of code and lets you manage everything from a web interface.” This versatile tagging tool enables you to easily add and update your own tags, without major website development work or manual code changes. Integrating both Google Analytics and Tag Manager across your website allows you to manage and optimize your website traffic more efficiently.

Here are 5 reasons why you should be “tagging” along:

1) Your Wallet Will Thank You

Money

The best part about Google Tag Manager (similarly with Google Analytics) is it’s FREE! Google Tag Manager offers many features such as Tag Technology, Usability, User Permissions and Accounts, Tag Firing Rules, and Supported Tags, all at no cost and ready to use. Implementing Google Tag Manager across your website reduces the hassle of tedious and manual code editing. It allows your marketing team members to add and update tags on the website- JavaScript code snippets, web analytics, remarketing, third party integrations, to name a few. Before Google Tag Manager, webmasters had to pay for these types of services and features, the best things in life are free!

2) The Need for Speed

speed

Before Google Tag Manager, you would have to update your website tracking and tagging through hard-coding, which is time consuming. Now, marketers can maintain and manage all the tags, and increase their website tracking efficiency. There are many websites that need various tags implemented in the code to deliver key data insights, these tags may clutter the website- which can affect the page speed and likely cause user experience issues. Google Tag manager replaces all of your tracking and marketing tags with a single, asynchronously loading tag (code snippet placed on your web page’s HTML), this tag will help your page speed because it fires faster without disrupting your site.

3) Easy Peasy

It's easy

Google Tag Manager works as a central hub to easily add and manage tags, set when and where they should fire, and optimize (based on specific rules you set). This user-friendly web interface tool allows you make changes to your tags whenever you want, without rewriting or editing the code on your website. You can control who has access and user permissions to ensure no one will publish a tag that could break the site. Google Tag Manager also has a feature called workspaces, which allows you to create “multiple and differing sets of changes to your container. Different users and teams can work on these sets of changes in separate workspaces to independently develop and test tag configurations.”

4) Sneak Peek Before You Publish

Sneak peek

To verify that your tags and triggers are firing properly, Google Tag Manager has a feature called Preview and Debug. This allows you to view your website and inspect what tags are fired, as if your drafted tags were deployed. Once you enable the preview mode and load your website, a debugger pane will be displayed to show you which tags are fired, and the order in which it was fired. In addition, you can also view the event tags you’ve fired within the Real-Time reports in your Google Analytics account, to validate that the tags are firing properly. But don’t worry, since you have not published the tags, it will not skew your data.

5) Migrate Without the Migraines

Migraine

If your website only has Google Analytics implemented, and you want to board the Google Tag Manager train, you can migrate with little work. Here are steps you would need to follow:

Google Tag Manager is a powerful tool that should be implemented across your website. This free tool reduces manual development work, increases tagging efficiency, and maximizes your time to optimize your website. So get tagging!