How to Set Up and Use the Google Analytics Event Tracking Tool

Technology experts have called Google Analytics event tracking one of the most useful data-driven marketing tools on the web today.

several mobile software devices

Because the world’s largest search engine manages it, you have a company that stands behind their product with detailed and daily analysis of how your readers interact with the site.

You can measure engagement and how effective your site has been at drawing in visitors. Once you dig deeper into the data, however, you learn about Google Analytic’s limitations.

For example, they only track information concerning visitors and page views. If you wanted to track PDF downloads, link clicks, button clicks and form submissions, you would need to install event tracking.

What Is Google Analytics Event Tracking?

the google analytics logo

Through event tracking, Google Analytics hands you the tools to measure how people engage with your site. You learn this additional information when you insert the code over to the elements of your site based on what you plan to track.

Whenever users click the element, it automatically reports to Google Analytics and records the interaction. You have four main variables to look at for event tracking:

  • Action.
  • Label.
  • Category.
  • Value.

#1. Action

Most often, action details the type of parameters you want to track for specific objects. For example, let’s say you have a video’s category. The following actions monitor the video: play button clicks, pause button clicks and stop button clicks.

#2. Label

Labels let you insert additional information that you might want to track. For example, you might add movie information or the name of the file while tracking the download.

Like with categories, the report shows all the labels you have made. Labels will be listed independently of categories.

#3. Category

The group variable specifies the objects you interact with. Through this variable, you can lasso objects into categories for what you want to track.

For example, let’s say you create a “videos” category. You will use the same element over the related UI elements for groups in a particular category.

#4. Value

Unlike the other variables in the event tracking tool, value assigns a numerical value to the tracked pages, and it provides you the time in seconds when tracking the player to load. Instead of being a string like the other components, the value is an integer.

Universal Analytics vs. Classic Analytics

mobile device screen with analytics illustration

A few years ago, Google released its Universal Analytics platform, which focuses primarily on compatibility and features never seen before in the past versions of Google Analytics.

You must know the configuration you use because the tracking code for Google Analytics Event Tracking differs for each setup. For example, Classic Analytics uses ga.js Javascript library. Meanwhile, Universal Analytics uses analytics.js.

Finding Your Version

To find your version, look for the code used. For example, open the “Page Source” of the site. After you have done that, hit CTRL+F. Once you have the bar at the top of your screen, look for either ga.js or analytics.js.

If you don’t see the one you searched for, then you have the other. Whichever one appears will be the one installed on your website.

Setting Up Event Tracking

the way google event tracking works

Step One: Know What You Want to Track

Before you start tracking on your site, you want to prioritize the most important actions on your site. Without having to say much, you will most likely know your site has a certain purpose. Also, you will know a user visits your site on purpose. What can you add the tracking tool to?

  • Email addresses.
  • Submission forms.
  • Phone calls.
  • Outbound links.
  • Downloads.
  • Sign-ups.

Step Two: Put a Tracking Code on Your Website to Add Google Analytics Event Tracking

Once you know what items you plan to track, you will add the code to your website. Adding the Google Analytics Event Tracking code will be inserted through a snippet in a link.

Whenever someone clicks on the link, Google Analytics will record the event. To get this right, you will hit the “onClick” JavaScript function.

To give an example, here’s what the Google Analytics Event variables will look like for a PDF download link:

Category=PDF Downloads.
Label=SEO for Beginners.

When you break this down, you will see the category referred to as “PDF Downloads.” It has been called this because you’re looking to track PDF Downloads for the whole site. For the action variable, “Click” has been entered because users will click on a link to view the PDF.

When it comes to the label, that was set as “SEO for Beginners” because we have named that as our fictional PDF file. Because we did not assign a Google Analytics Event Tracking value, it won’t appear in the code.

By default, noninteraction gets set to false, and as a result, the event counts as an interaction. That means you don’t have to include it with the code.

Step 3: Design a Goal with Google Analytics Event Tracking

After you added the code to your website, you will want to set a target for your Google Analytics Event Tracking. To do this, you first have to log into Google Analytics and visit the “Admin” tab. You should see a “View” column, and from there, you will hit “Goals.”

Next, click “New Goal.” Once you have reached that page, hit “Template” and click, “Custom.” After you’ve done that, under “Type,” you will hit, “Event.” Finally, hit the category and action button. You verify your goal and press, “Create Goal.”

Drawing to a Close

Google Analytics Event Tracking can be a handy tool for your website. You learn more detailed information than if you just used Google Analytics, and you can put the learned information to good use and build a stronger following on your website.

We encourage our readers to try Google Analytics Event Tracking to see if they like it.

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