Google Analytics Track Outbound Links

Google Analytics Track Outbound Links

It's likely that your site has some links to other websites (also known as “outbound links”), which, if followed, would take visitors away from your page and onto another. Due to the lack of event tracking in Universal Analytics, Google Analytics will be unable to confirm or deny whether or not this actually occurred. This requires very specific instructions from you.

Seeing this information populate instantly in Google Analytics is now possible with a few clicks of your mouse, all due to Google Tag Manager. This essay will examine using Google Tag Manager to monitor external links.

We should pause to consider if we really need to understand how to use Google Tag Manager to monitor external links before moving on to that topic. Explain why and how it would be helpful. In general, it can help you gain insight into how people utilize your product. Given that, it's possible that not all external links are malicious. It's natural to worry that a lost visitor caused them to click an external link. However, what about your social media profile links?

What if your company operates many websites under various domains? Perhaps you're curious about the most popular connections. If you didn't have Google Tag Manager, you'd have to manually log each time a user clicked on a link in Google Analytics (or any other tracking tool). This means that a developer had to apply special tracking codes to the five URLs of interest in order to begin recording clicks as events.

Suppose you wish to monitor five additional links. Yes, you'll need to get in touch with a programmer once more (unless, of course, a developer coded some more automated solution). Instead, you can do it yourself with the help of Google Tag Manager. And this is precisely why I am adding external link tracking across multiple projects.

Clicks on external links are not something I keep tabs on (because that tells me nothing). But if I want to know something specific, like whether or not people are clicking the external links on that page, I can't. If, instead, you're interested in questions like, “What do people actually do on that page?” the narrative shifts significantly.

And with the help of Google Tag Manager, we can set it up so that you only have to do it once (unless, of course, the domain of your website changes). A developer does not need to be instructed to implement extra tracking codes for selected URLs.

In the context of affiliate and partner marketing, clicks on external links are also a viable option. Without changing any settings, you can see just how much traffic is being sent their way.

You may have seen recommendations to utilize the Click URL variable in this configuration in previous (more out-of-date) instructions to Google Tag Manager. Despite their continued relevance, outbound link tracking has become considerably simpler and quicker to set up in the most recent version to Google Tag Manager (2019-10-30).

First, You'll Need To Set Up A Variable That Notifies Gtm Whether The Link Is Outbound Or Not

In the olden days (like, say, last week), people would use the “Click URL” variable that comes standard in GTM to determine whether or not the link was hosted on the website itself or whether it led to an external resource. Presently, however, this may be accomplished through the use of an Auto-Event Variable that, depending on whether the connection is outbound or not, will return true or false.

Then, set up the subsequent

Whether or not a given element's URL component is an outbound one is a sort of variable. This is the barest minimum required to identify the external link from an internal one. If a guest is online, the value of this variable will be set to true.

Clicks are not tracked by default in Google Tag Manager. To make sure, activate the Preview and Debug modes and then refresh the page you are currently editing.If you're using a brand new GTM container, you can test it by clicking any link outside of the GTM debug panel and observing the results on the left. Nothing. Those three happenings are still on the docket (unless, of course, you have implemented some other tracking functionality in your GTM container sometimes before).

At least one Link Click trigger must be activated on a page before we can start seeing Link Click events in preview and debug mode. Navigate to Triggers > Trigger Configuration > New > Just Links in Google Tag Manager. Then, select Some Link Click and enter the following condition:

If the link opens in the same tab as the current one, then using wait for tags is helpful. With Wait for tags” enabled (for example, for 2000 ms), GTM will pause the redirection (for up to 2000 ms) if any tags are associated with the link click trigger. After 2 seconds have gone from the time the tags were supposed to fire, the user will move on to another page. That pause's duration is flexible; it need not be a fixed value of 2000 ms.

Step 3: Add a Tag

The next step is to notify Google Analytics whenever a user clicks on an external link. Tags > Tag Configuration > Universal Analytics is where you'll find this setting in your GTM interface. Actually, the Event Category, Event Action, or Event Label fields are completely open for you to customise as you see fit. For demonstration purposes only, please disregard the above screenshot. In closing, I'd like to express my appreciation to Marek Lecián for his suggestion regarding the proper name.

You'll need to turn on click-related built-in variables in GTM for this to operate. To do this, go to Variables > Edit > Check the Boxes Next to Each Variable (or at least Click URL). There should be a Google Analytics Settings Variable in the container already, but if there isn't one, select New Variable from the drop-down menu. For the time being, enter the property's GA Tracking ID (which should look something like UA-XXXXXX-XX) and click Save.

Extra setting in the GA Settings Variable is required for the use of other GA features like custom dimensions and cross-domain tracking.

By using GA Settings Variable, you may share GA configurations across many Google Analytics tags. Each GA tag needs its own unique Tracking ID and, in some cases, additional configuration options. When you have twenty, fifty, or more Google Analytics Tags, managing them one by one becomes a burden. The GA Settings Variables come to the rescue here; any changes you make to the variable will propagate to all tags that use it.

Indicator Step 4

Go to your site and reload the page to activate (or reset) the Preview and Debug mode. Check for the following cases:Follow one of the site's internal links (such “Contact us”). The GA tag on the outgoing link cannot be triggered. Follow an off-site link. All GA Tags have to go off. Using the P&D mode, you can trigger the tag if it did not activate automatically.

Evaluating the Availability of the Outbound Connection Standard Google Analytics report click eventsAfter ensuring that click events on external links show up in GA Real-time reports, you should give it some time before they show up in regular GA reports. It could take a few minutes or a few hours, but plan on waiting up to 24 hours.

However, you can view the top events in GA by going to Behavior > Events > Top events. Verify that today's information is also available in the date selector (by default that is not included so you need to specifically tell that to GA). You may then narrow your search by entering the event's category (the one you selected for the GA Event Tag) in the search bar. In theory, this will show the GA-sent events you sent. Please be patient and give it up to 24 hours if you still haven't seen them.

Start with a Google Analytics goal.

In general, I don't set clicks on external links as targets because I think there are more significant interactions to measure (such as opt-in, download, etc.), but in this case, it might make sense to do so. If that's the case, let's investigate the means by which you might achieve your goal. Interactions and acts that you value are called goals. The very definition of these tools is to monitor and assess whether or not your website's users are engaging in the actions that will ultimately prove fruitful for your company (like signup, download, etc.).

Do this if you believe a certain outbound connection represents a major development that merits being regarded as a target. To view your Google Analytics goals, navigate to the Admin section and click the View drop-down menu under the Goals heading. Set a fresh objective (keep in mind that Universal Analytics allows you to create 20 goals per view).

To name your objective, select the “Custom” option and fill in the blank. The sky's the limit as far as what you might call it. However, it is important that the name be easily understood by others. You should select the Event objective.

There are now four fields visible. Do not leave ANY of them blank. In other words, you don't have to fill them all out. When entering category, action, or label for an event, be sure to input it precisely as it appeared in the GTM to GA data transfer. You must include “outbound link click” in the goal's parameters if the outbound link click event category was utilised in Google Tag Manager and the event was submitted to Google Analytics. Again, not all fields are essential. To give just one example, if you only enter the Event Action, the objective will function as intended.

Several aims are listed below.

Several Aims Are Listed Below.

Only clicks on external links need to be recorded in the event category (in the Goal's configuration settings). All occurrences that fit this description will be counted as accomplished objectives. Even though it's feasible, I don't think it's worth it to treat every click as a goal.The event category can be set to “outbound link click,” and the event label can read something like “” In that instance, only actions taken on that particular link will count.

It's a typical rookie error to enter the variable's name in GA's goal settings if you're using it in GTM's event tag. Simply type in the variable's final value. If you look closely at the image above, you'll notice that I did not type “Click URL” inside the label. Our company's social media URL is, which I've provided as the variable's result.

Once all of the data is entered, you can double-check the target. However, the verification will come back as 0% if you have only recently started tracking clicks on external links. This is because GA has not yet finished processing the data. Instead, rely on GA's real-time conversion reports. You can check if your goals are being tracked in the same way as you would with event debugging by going to Real-time reporting > Conversions. Goals cannot be adjusted for past performance. Only from the moment you create them will you see them in GA reports.

When I first started using Google Tag Manager, I'll never forget it. After implementing pageviews, outbound link tracking was the next GTM feature I added (because it was so simple to configure).This tutorial will show you how to use Google Tag Manager to automate the tracking of external links. You just set up GTM such that it automatically tracks all link clicks that go to external resources, rather than having to tell it to track X or Y in particular (e.g. 3rd party website, social network, etc.).

This is a rundown of what has to be done so that Google Tag Manager can monitor your outbound links:

  • To determine whether a link leads to an external resource once it is clicked, set up an automatic event variable that returns true.
  • Make a Just Links trigger that only triggers tags if the link was clicked was an external one.
  • Make a tag (like a Google Analytics Event) to trigger the event whenever the external link is clicked.

Frequently asked question

When a user clicks on a link on your website that leads them to another website, they are following an outbound link. Outbound clicks can be automatically recorded in Google Analytics 4. As a result, this function is turned on by default in GA4. GA4 labels “Enhanced Measurement” as the goal for tracking clicks on external links in Google Analytics.

Explanation of Turning on/Off External Link Tracking

    1. Enter the Admin Menu.
    2. You can change this option for a certain Property by selecting it from the drop-down menu.
    3. To access the data stream, please select this link.
    4. You can change the Data Stream by clicking on it.
    5. Outbound links can be found in the Enahnaced measurement section.

Simply navigate to Pages to view which pages received the most clicks on external links. To view the list of external links that users of your site clicked on, choose the page you're interested in, then click Event Category and Event Action.

What exactly does the “outbound links” check look for? Yoast SEO keeps track of how many external links you've included in a given post or page. Both followed and nofollowed links are recorded. In other words, if these links are “followed,” search engines will consider the article more valuable.

Your site's SEO may suffer if it has a large number of external links, which gives the impression that your site is a link farm and spam site. To maximise your site's effectiveness, you should include external links, either to related content that would interest your visitors or to products that you have reviewed.

Thank you for reading!

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