Google Analytics Launches Enhanced Link Attribution – Hurrah!

For many years now, one of the most commonly asked questions from our digital marketing clients is how they can figure out which links on a page their users clicked on. Google Analytics has hitherto provided a basic link analysis tool which allowed some measure of analysis, but it was always hobbled by its fundamental inability to tell the difference between multiple links to the same page. A recently announced feature is set to change that dramatically.

The problem starts when a web page has multiple links out to another page. For example, the ‘About Us’ page of a web site might have two links to the Home Page – one in the main navigation and another as part of the company’s logo. In fact, this is the case with the Mackerel Media web site – the right hand navigation links to ‘Home’ as does the logo in the top left of the page. As it stands, Google Analytics can’t tell which is which, and when it is reporting on link clicks, therefore marks them as being clicked on an equal number of times, which means (to the untrained observer) both links received the same number of clicks, or in total, double the real number of clicks.

We’ve previously plugged this gap by making use of other tools such as CrazyEgg, which produces excellent heatmaps showing you exactly where your users have clicked, even those who have clicked on something that isn’t a link.

Google Analytics will soon allow you to differentiate between links on a page, and (very interestingly) view clicks associated with triggering a javascript event such as the user clicking on a ‘search’ button.

The images below show the before and after measurements – you’ll see quite a difference in the percentages recorded, and you’ll also see links associated with the magnifying glass button, the javascript trigger.

Before

Before - inaccurate attribution

After - much more accurate attribution!

Taken as part of the huge variety of other changes happening with Google, Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools, this is another important signal to web site owners from the search giant about what they believe is important and – therefore – where we ought to focus our digital efforts. Or in other words, Google are saying very clearly “use the data to make your web site better!”

The feature is being rolled out across Analytics Accounts, so look out for it arriving in yours.