Get more out of Google Analytics with Site Search and Event Tracking / by Mike Takahashi

Screenshot of Google Analytics

Google Analytics comes with two very useful tools that aren't enabled by default: Site Search and Event Tracking. When used, these tools can help give more meaningful statistics about users on your site.

Site Search

Site Search uses internal search data to track and analyze what visitors are searching for within your site. Internal search data is very important because it helps give insight into what your visitors want and why they are there. Here's a quick snapshot of some top searches on UCLA Happenings.

Screenshot of Site Search on Google Analytics

Using this information, you can find out if your site has the content your visitors need. Site Search can also tell you how effective your content is organized and if it can be easily found.

For example, when visitors use your search, which link do they click on first within the search results? Is it the correct page? Or do they search for a few pages, then get discouraged and leave your site? These are just some of the important questions that Site Search can help answer to help manage your content.

Event Tracking

Event Tracking allows you to track events such as clicks to external links, downloads of files such as PDF's, interaction with Flash objects, and more. For the UCLA gateway this is hugely beneficial for us. The majority of our pages such as Academics act as a "gateway" by providing external links to other departments and organizations within UCLA. By analyzing the data from Event Tracking, we're now able to determine which links are the most popular and which links are just not working.

Screenshot of Event Tracking on Google Analytics

Event Tracking report for Academics.

We can also easily track how many times files such as PDF's are downloaded like our campus map. Statistics such as these can be very useful in determining whether or not we still need to publish a static version of our campus map.

Screenshot of Event Tracking on Google Analytics

Event Tracking report for file downloads.

In order to implement Event Tracking, you'll need to customize the way you call your Google Analytics code a little and use jQuery, but it's not that hard. There is a great tutorial called Extend Google Analytics with jQuery on how to do this.

Using these tools will help give you a greater understanding of what your users are looking for. It will help you understand them more effectively, lead to greater usability, and deliver the most out of your website.