Tracking Micro Conversions with Event Tracking for Improving SEO Campaigns

Feb 28th

Conversions. The one metric we all know we should be focusing on, and yet it's the one thing that gets overlooked the most. So many of us focus on just one main conversion point, and forget how many other types of visitor engagement exist on our sites. These other engagement points, or less-important conversions are what experts call "micro conversions."

World-renowned analytics expert Avinash Kaushik is a strong supporter of the use of micro conversions. In his Excellent Analytics Tip series, he explains the benefits of tracking both micro and macro conversions:

3. It will force you to understand the multiple persona's on your website, trust me that in of itself is worth a million bucks. It will encourage you to segment (my favorite activity) visitors and visits and behavior and outcomes. Success will be yours.

When you understand your various visitor personas, you can create better targeted content, value-adds and better messaging overall. This will only strengthen your SEO campaign and will help guide you to improving your conversion rate and the ROI of your SEO efforts.

Event Tracking in Google Analytics

One of my favorite ways to track micro conversions is with event tracking in Google Analytics. Before I walk you through how to setup events, let's first make sure we understand the difference between events and your traditional goals in Google Analytics.

In the past, a goal in Google Analytics was when any action a visitor would take on your site that took them to a confirmation page. When the visitor reached that confirmation page, Google Analytics would count it as a goal completion.

An event, on the other hand, is when a visitor takes action on your site and there is no confirmation page. A good example of this would be when someone clicks a "Follow Me on Twitter" link on your site. It takes the visitor off of your website and makes you unable to add conversion tracking code to their destination page (because it lives on Twitter.com).

In addition to bringing us cool features like custom dashboards, the new Google Analytics also made it much easier to track events as goals. Which is what we'll be focusing on today.

Setting Up an Event

Events are much easier to setup then you might imagine. All you need to do is add a little piece of customized code to the URL a visitor will be clicking on to trigger the event, and you're halfway there. Let's start with understanding what our event tracking options are.

There are five fields in total that you can use to categorize your event, two of which are optional:

  • Category: The general name of the type of event you wish to track. If you'll be setting up events of a similar topic (like form submissions), you'll want to keep this consistent across all of the events you setup.
  • Action: A description of the action the visitor is taking to trigger the event. So if your category is set to "Forms", your action might be set to "Sales Inquiry".
  • Label: This is an optional field used to further describe the type of event. If you're tracking multiple forms of the same type (like contact forms), you may consider using this field to avoid any confusion with the other events.
  • Value: Suppose each micro conversion does have a monetary value of sorts for you, this is the field you'd use to track that numeric number.
  • Non-Interaction: A true/false field that you can use to prevent a visitor who completes the event and leaves your domain from being recorded as a bounce in Google Analytics

Still with me? Now here comes the fun part: building the event tracking script.

The framework of your event tracking script looks like this:

onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Category', 'Action', 'Label', Value, false]);"

There are a couple of things you need to remember when you customize the various fields in the script (e.g. "Category"):

  • You must fill in the Category, Action and Non-Interaction fields
  • The Value and Non-Interaction fields do not have a single quote around around them like the others
  • If you choose to omit the Label or Value fields, also omit the single quote but not the comma that separates them from the other fields. In this example I've ommitted both fields, but not their commas:

  • onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Category', 'Action',,, false]);"

  • The Non-Interaction field can only be set to true or false (remember: no quotes!)

Now that you've set up the script, you should place it within the href component of any link you are setting up. Here's an example of what it would look like:

<a href="http://twitter.com/seobook" onClick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Category', 'Action', 'Label', Value, false]);">Follow us on Twitter!</a>

The final piece of the puzzle is adding the event as a goal in Google Analytics.

  1. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the Google Analytics profile you're setting up the goal in
  2. Using the sub-navigation where your Profile information is listed, select the Goals tab
  3. Choose the goal set you wish to add the event to (I like to categorize my goal sets)
  4. After you name your goal, select the Event radio button
  5. You now need to populate the event details exactly how you set them up in your script. If you omitted a field, just leave it blank

Event Tracking

You've now setup your event as a goal!

Types of SEO Micro Conversions

Now that the hard part is out of the way, let's brainstorm some micro conversions we could be tracking.

Social Engagement

You can use event tracking to track Share This links and blog comments. That way you can quickly see which content has the highest engagement so you can build more of it.

Affiliate Links and Ads

You may also wish to track when someone clicks one of your affiliate links or a banner you have on your site. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of the Value field so you can keep track of how much each of those clicks are worth (and perhaps double-check that you're getting paid the right amount).

Downloads

If your site has white papers, presentations, video, audio or any other type of file that users can download, you can easily keep track of those downloads with event tracking.

Follow Me/Like Us Links

If one of your macro conversion goals is brand awareness, you should consider adding an event whenever someone clicks a "follow me on Twitter" or "Like us on Facebook" link on your site. That way you can track back the source of those follows/likes to SEO.

Live Chats & Customer Support

Many service companies still utilize live chat to quickly address customer inquiries and problems. When someone clicks the live chat link, you can trigger an event to count it as a goal completion.

Additionally, if you use a third party customer support center, you can trigger an event whenever a user clicks the outbound links for those services.

These are just a few of the micro conversions you could be tracking on your site. While every site is different and is interested in tracking different things, hopefully this will give you a few ideas of additional conversion points you could be looking at to better understand your audience. The better we understand our visitors, the better job we can do as SEOs to attract more of them.

Published: February 28, 2012

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Comments

February 29, 2012 - 11:39pm

Awesome Stuff, Taylor...one of those post that I'm not quite there yet but will need sometime soon...but it's off the charts because I've never even thought about "macro conversions.." before.

Thanks again...

-E.

March 1, 2012 - 2:01pm

Thanks and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I know it's not something on the front of everyone's minds, but having these additional conversion points will go a long way in showing the ROI of SEO. Thanks for reading!

March 1, 2012 - 3:48pm

Informative post because when asking any one who is profiting from an online buisness it is very important to have a have conversion rate, which means that you must have the right tools in place to track the interaction between your users. That is what the information on this post is about.

March 1, 2012 - 10:57pm

Good stuff Taylor. Two things to add:

1) For those who didn't click over to Avinash's article, Event Tracking helps GA to track bounce rates more accurately.

2) If you're looking for (what I believe is) an easier way to implement the javascript snippet mentioned above, I have a jQuery plugin you'll be interested in. It's called EZ Event Tracking:

http://chiefalchemist.com/jquery-plugin-ez-event-tracking-v0-5-3-beta-fo...

Give it a go, let me know what you think. Moi? It's pure genius. But I'm obviously a bit biased.

btw, if you're a WordPress person EZ Event Tracking is soon to bundled with Andy Killen's Share & Follow plugin:

http://share-and-follow.com

I'm not sure what exactly Andy is going to do with EZ ET. I just know he ask if he could include it in S&F. So yes, EZ ET is vetted.

March 29, 2013 - 6:16am

Informative Post here! Well, I found something to be edited.
Wrong: The Value and Non-Interaction fields do not have a single quote around around them like the others
Correct: The Value and Non-Interaction fields do not have a single quote around them like the others.

It would be great if you could answer my following query..

How to track the click throughs on a third party widget? The widget displays on my site by using a short code like this [widget]
For example if I am using a school search widget on my site and I want to track how many successful leads am I generating and I dont know the goal urls? and the goal urls keep changing.

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