Event tracking and URL Parameters

by Brian Toomey, JB Analytics CEO

What it is

Straight out of the box, Google Analytics records pageviews and not much else. When a user interacts with content without changing the URL, this can be captured using an “event.”  Events could include:

  • File downloads,
  • Clicking a link,
  • Downloading a PDF,
  • Submitting a form,
  • Playing a video, etc.

Why it matters

Tracking pageviews is great, but often the really key thing is capturing user interactions. What are they doing on site? And what do you want them to be doing?

Event tracking, done properly, provides an excellent window into actual engagement and usage by visitors. Thus, empowering your team for better strategic decision making.

This also makes it easier to make iterative changes to align site content and structure with your business goals and user behavior.

JB Analytics combines a passion for data and analytics to drive improvements in Pay Per Click performance. They are friendly, results driven, and we recommend them wholeheartedly.

What to do

  • Audit your existing site, or consider when building a new one/redesigning an old one which kinds of user interaction you want to track and what each interaction means to your business.
  • See below for a list of what we consider standard events for consideration

Standard Events

While each business is unique, some interaction types on sites are always good to track. Things like file downloads and video plays are must-haves for understanding whether visitors are converting from browsing to engaging, and what content they’re engaging with. Below is a standard list of events we start with:

  1. Video play, pause, watch to end and 10, 25, 50, 75, and 90% viewed
  2. All Google Docs downloads
  3. All PDF downloads
  4. Clicks out to share or follow on social media
  5. All clicks out to  external websites
  6. Clicks-to-call on phone numbers
    • Click-to-call provides improved user experience and can be an important factor in boosting conversion of visitors to active outreach while helping to foster trust.
  7. Mailto clicks
  8. Form submissions

Note on URL Parameters and Internal Links

Parameters on internal links should never be used to generate click tracking information, as this can overwrite and interrupt the chain of activity recorded by Google Analytics.  In particular, UTM parameters should never be employed on internal links. Source information is destroyed where UTMs are employed for this purpose.

If a particular link click is of interest, it can be recorded with a Google Analytics event, which does not cause the same problems and also allows for easier reporting.


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