Originally published May 1st, 2017.
Updated June 20th, 2020
Yep, it sure can. Google Analytics can track link clicks but not without a little customization, first. Let us show you how.
How to track Link Clicks with Google Analytics
To track link clicks in Google Analytics you’ll need to set up custom events. There are a few ways though:
Event tracking simply applies a hot element on the page and whenever a user clicks on that element, it sends a signal to Google Analytics. This is helpful for tracking:
- File Downloads
- Video Engagement
- External Link Clicks
- Internal Link Clicks
- Email Link Clicks
Additionally, when setting up event tracking you will be able to add categories, actions, labels to see specific link information or high-level link click information.
Tracking Link Clicks with Event Tracking vs Virtual Pageviews
You are also able to use virtual pageviews to track link clicks however, this technique may cause problems elsewhere. One of the more common problems is skewing content report data. If you track link clicks with virtual pageviews, then your content reports will show more pages on your site than there actually are.
Viewing your Link Clicking Data
Once logged into Google Analytics, navigate to Behavior > Events > Overview
There you will be able to view your event categories.
Click on the category “Links” and select event label and there you will be able to see the specific links clicked on your website. Additionally, by collecting this data you will be able to create custom segments in Google Analytics to view the behavior of these audience members if needed.
Tracking Specific External Link Clicks
To track specific external link clicks (like a social media profile, partner link, or reference article) we recommend Google Tag Manager Event Tracking. Google Tag Manager allows you to create unique click “variables” and “triggers” to pull in the “click url” to your Google Analytics event field dynamically. Here’s an example of what an External Link Click event could look like in Tag Manager with a trigger example as well:
External Link Click Tag
External Link Click Trigger
There are multiple ways to track link clicks in Google Analytics and multiple use cases as well. One thing is for sure, Google Analytics and Tag Manager are powerful tools to help you better understand the behavior and experience of your website users.
While there may be a little work, research, and setup involved to get your link click tracking working.. the data and insights available from these events can be invaluable. If you need a hand with your own setup, drop us a line.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes Google Analytics can track both internal and external link clicks through what is called “event tracking”. Custom code snippets or events from Google Tag Manager can help feed these events into Google Analytics based on your specific requirements.
To create a sharable link for tracking users from a specific source, UTM parameters can be appended to the end of any link to give Google insight into which source, medium, campaign, and more that the user came from. Google has a handy UTM link building tool of their own. Please check out our blog on UTM tracking best practices and custom channel grouping to learn more about analyzing these sessions.
The best way to track link clicks in Google Analytics is through Event Tracking with Google Tag Manager in our opinion. Tag Manager allows for nimble flexibility and specificity in your event tracking all without any hard-coded development on the site. Learn more about event tracking with Tag Manager here.