Track Outgoing Links with Google Analytics

Most blogs have outgoing links which the readers click to go to the resources you've recommended or linked for other reason. With Google Analytics you can track those outgoing links very easily.

With special attributes on your page and links, you not only get the normal Google Analytics data, you also get advanced data in a form of outgoing links and tracking those links.

Don't worry, it's very easy! This one is actually so easy to setup, anyone who can install a plugin to WordPress can do it! (just in case, all instructions you need are here on our previous article: Adding Google Analytics to Your WordPress Blog)

With the Google Analytics for WordPress -plugin, you have to do any javascript coding, as the plugin does all the work for you automatically and by default. If you don't have Google Analytics running on your blog yet, go do it now.

The easiest way to achieve this is installing the Google Analytics for WordPress -plugin. First, set up Google Analytics account if you haven't, and proceed into adding Google Analytics to your WordPress Blog.

Google Analytics for WordPress -plugin configuration

Tracking outgoing links

If you have the Google Analytics for WordPress -plugin installed, this is all done automatically for you, but I'll take you through how the link tracking actually works...

The magic happens in the Google Analytics for WordPress -plugin: take a look at the advanced settings by clicking the checkbox for "Show advanced settings".  You don't have to change any of the settings, but take a look at the "prefixes for outgoing clicks"

by default these are:

Now you can untick the advanced settings checkbox. Note: If you're going to make changes here, make the changes for a reason, and as the plugin text states: only adviced for advanced users who know their way around Google Analytics.

The Google Analytics for WordPress -plugin adds javascript "onclick" properties to the outgoing links using the defined advanced settings prefixes. The plugin adds the domain or the full link (defined in the settings of the plugin) after the prefix. For example, the Google Analytics links on this article, get this kind of addition on them:


To see how these show up in your Google Analytics, we need to go and check inside the Google Analytics...

Looking at the outgoing links inside Google Analytics

After having the Google Analytics for WordPress -plugin running on your blog for a while, you've probably had some of your readers click on the outgoing links you have provided in the articles, links, sidebar or the links in comments and trackbacks.

1) Go to your Google Analytics dashboard by clicking the website profile
2) Check the bottom right for "Content Overview"
3) Click "view report"
4) On the "Content Overview" page, scroll down a bit if needed and click on the "view full report"
5) Look for /outbound/ "Pages" and you see what outgoing links the users are clicking to move away from your site.

For example:


Now that you have these stats, it's up to you how you want to utilize them, but at this level, you're already getting more data for your traffic which is always great.

For bit more advanced Google Analytics usage and if your blog is designed to direct readers to certain links, you can set Google Analytics Goals for these outgoing links (e.g. your salespage on a different domain, or such).

Using this kind of outgoing link tracking will increase your Pageviews, which is ok as getting the data where readers are going is now in your hands. If you have run your blog without tracking, remember this when analysing your data.

Until next time, enjoy your new data and statistics!

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Topic: WordPress Tips
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