Posted on 12/14/2017 in Web Development
By Matt Wiseley
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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