Events Tracking – The Hidden Joker of Google Analytics

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December 21, 2014

In web analytics, an event is a type of measurement (similar to pageviews) for certain occurrences or interactions that take place on your site. By implementing events tracking, we can measure:

User interactions, such as:

  • File downloads
  • Newsletter / RSS Subscriptions
  • Product ratings
  • Social Actions (Like, Share)
  • User comments
  • Form error tracking
  • Video plays
  • Clicks on meaningful page elements (e.g the ‘register’ button on your register form)

*Basically every goal that is not represented by a thankyou page will probably be tracked as an event.

And non– user interactions such as:

  • Popup opening (e.g. requesting newsletter subscription)
  • Auto video play (how long did the video play for? 25%, 50%, 75%, 90%, 100%)
  • Auto slideshow slide change
  • JavaScript exceptions

* An interaction event will affect bounce rate and different time metrics. A non- interaction event will not affect bounce rate and time metrics.

Events Tracking

Events Example: Of the 129,837 users who were fed with a pop up, 4,902 users signed up to the newsletter (3.7%)

Google analytics offers event tracking, yet by default- no events are defined. It is up to the administrator of Google Analytics to define which meaningful events are relevant to their account, and implement event tracking for them within the site’s code.

Event tracking provides a way to drill down on meaningful actions the user makes on your site, such as clicking on an action button, and a clear understanding of exactly how they ‘performed’ the event, for example, via a popup/sidebar/footer. Tracking this data enables you to enhance your site’s effectiveness, from the user’s entrance, through to their goal completion action. To achieve this, you must make sure to first measure your site’s user interactions, after which the appropriate changes can be implemented. Event tracking also enables you to segment users who performed a particular action on your site in order to further analyze their on-site behavior and engagement, and perhaps re-target them.

Which dimensions are available when tracking events?

  • Category: A general name to group a set of events that share a commonality: e.g ‘Homepage’ to gather all events that occur on the homepage or ‘Outbound Links’ to gather all the outbound links you’ll have on site.
  • Action: Used to define the type of interaction the user/our site has taken. Such as Click, Open, Play, Download.
  • Label (optional): Additional information about the action,  such as which call to action text you used in your newsletter subscription button, or which button out of several on the page was clicked in order to arrive at a specific page.
  • Value (optional): An integer you may choose to represent the event you are tracking. For example, a star ranking the user gave a product on your site (1-5). These are represented as ”Event Value” and “Avg. Value” metrics in Google Analytics reports.
  • Non-interaction (optional): When set to ‘true’, indicates to Google Analytics that this event should not affect the session’s bounce rate. We will explain more about this shortly.

* There are no strict rules regarding which data you should put in each field. Sometimes you might like to switch between label and action – the important thing is to keep a logical hierarchy that will make sense as you analyze your data. Seperia helps with this through our Google Analytics implementation service.

Product Clicks

On an ecommerce website, a user’s click on a product indicates that the user is interested in one of the products you have to offer. This may sound obvious, but many websites that we see, are still not tracking this simple engagement as a goal.

We prefer to track product clicks as an event (and not just by setting a simple goal for reaching the product page) as this tracking method works alongside Enhanced Ecommerce’s robust features in Google Analytics.

Once events tracking is implemented, you will be able to discover how layout changes affect:

  1. Overall website product clicks performance (if we implemented a significant change in the overall website structure).
  2. Per page product clicks depending on which page the changes applied (category page, homepage etc.).

Clicks to Product

% Clicks to Product

Form Error Tracking

Tracking form errors is an essential measurement in the conversion optimization process. The key to the process is to be able to pinpoint exactly where the user is abandoning the form (which we wish them to pass through smoothly). By using this type of tracking we can see the exact field our users most struggle with and more than this, which error occurs most commonly for this field.

The following is an example of how lead form error tracking data should be reported:

form error tracking

Indicating User Engagement on Landing Pages

If you are using marketing landing pages for your advertising efforts, you probably witness a significantly high bounce rate (between 90-95%). This occurs simply because most of the page’s users will not convert. However, many of them will show an interest in what you have to offer by engaging with your content.

A widely practiced method to handle such interactions is to count/track the first 15 seconds following the user’s entrance to your landing page. If the count reaches 15 seconds and finishes, it indicates that the user is still on the landing page, showing an interest in your offer. Using this data, an interaction event is sent to Google Analytics, which will reduce the page’s bounce rate. At a later stage, you may also like to use this metric to track and reach those users who interacted with the landing page through remarketing.

Download External File

If your site provides downloads such as pdf, exe, zip, rar, you should track these downloads using events. Examples of such sites include those that provide their users with downloadable software (exe file) and technology companies that serve pdfs of their product or research through their site.

When tracking downloads, we highly recommend using the label field in order to understand which elements are driving more conversions: cross site elements or particular page elements (such as the homepage):

Cross site:

  • Header
  • Sidebar
  • Footer
  • Scroll (button that follows the user as he scrolls down the page)


  • Header
  • Slider
  • Download Button
  • Top Navigation
  • Footer

Outbound Links

Some classic examples of sites that should be tracking outbound link clicks are those that wish to get a better sense of which websites they are sending traffic to, such as content and news websites. Tracking outbound link clicks can also assist with:

  • Improving the user’s interaction with your website’s social media buttons.
  • Tracking links to your own projects or external websites that you may wish to promote through your website.
  • Advertising opportunities may also arise- by tracking your most popular links you may discover you are sending a generous amount of traffic to certain external sites- so why not turn this into a new revenue stream?

* You might be surprised to find that your site has been hacked and some unwanted links start to be included in your site in order to promote other websites in Google’s results pages.

Outbound link clicks

Outbound Links Report

Affiliate websites are another example of sites that can take advantage of outbound link tracking, especially those sites that compare different products/services. As it stands, when a user enters one of the affiliate’s partners’ websites and closes a deal on the particular partner site, the transaction generates revenue for the affiliate. Thus, it is very important to track which partners the affiliate site is sending traffic to, and the frequency at which traffic is being sent. This tracking can be achieved with additional code, as we need to distinguish between links to partner websites (affiliation) and general links to external websites unrelated to the affiliate’s partners.

Affiliate Outbound Links

Affiliate Outbound Links

Tracking Users Who Saw Your Message/Offer

Lets say you would like your website to provide visitors with an engaging user experience- in this case, you have decided to show users landing on your homepage for the first time a popup including a special offer for the holiday season. By implementing event tracking code, you can mark those users who view the popup, later on analyzing if and how viewing the special offer affected their on-site behavior in the long term (this tracking can be performed for up to 3 months).

* This type of event should be tracked as a non interaction event so Google Analytics will register this session as a bounce, provided no other interaction is made.

* Ninja tip: you may wish to track users who were exposed to the message for 10-15 seconds, as this indicates they actually read your message.

Final Words on Event Tracking

Event tracking is not a new feature of Google Analytics, having been introduced in 2009, but it is still underutilized.

We suggest implementing Google Analytics’ events tracking as often as possible, as it is fundamental to website and user behavior tracking. As such, we recommend implementing events to track how different elements on the site assist with driving users towards your conversion goals, and ultimately to improve funnels and conversion rates.

Contact us to inquire about our services