Enhanced Link Attribution for In-Page Analytics Provides Better Click-Through Data

A new year brings a welcoming change to Google In-Page Analytics called enhanced link attribution. Its main purpose is to give you more precise data as to which components of your website are motivating visitors to click through for more information.

How link attribution used to work

Prior to the change, In-Page Analytics would give you the percentage of clicks based solely on the destination URL. While this method told you how many people clicked through to the destination page, if you had more than one link on a page going to the same destination URL, it didn’t tell you which one the person clicked.

How enhanced link attribution works

For example, let’s say you have a link to your contact page in the main nav and another link in the footer. If 20% of people clicked the main nav link and nobody clicked the footer link, In-Page Analytics would show a 20% click-through rate on both links. Obviously this isn’t entirely useful. With enhanced link attribution enabled, In-Page analytics now shows the correct 20% click-through rate on the main nav link and 0% on the footer link.

With enhanced link attribution, click percentages are broken down by specific elements on your website, whether it’s a button, link, icon, or other content, used to reach that destination URL. This is a great enhancement because now you actually know which elements are attracting click-throughs and can modify your web design accordingly.

Before and After Analytics

Let’s take a look at a visual example of Google Analytics before the enhanced link attribution feature is applied and after. As you can see, the website shown in the example uses a variety of marketing elements to encourage visitors to click through to other web pages in the site.

Before Screenshot without Enhanced Link Attribution

Analytics Standard Link Attribution

In-Page Analytics without Enhanced Link Attribution

Notice that, without enhanced link attribution, the “Home” nav item and the logo (both point to the homepage) are both 0.8%, even though we know the same amount of people probably did NOT click the home nav item as did the logo.

After Screenshot with Enhanced Link Attribution

Analytics Enhanced Link Attribution Screenshot

In-Page Analytics with Enhanced Link Attribution

Notice that the “Home” nav item and the logo have different click-through rates. Now we know how many people are actually clicking each of those links.

Here’s a more simplified Before and After look of the In-Page Analytics:

Before: Click-through information by destination URL only.

After: Click-through information by actual link and/or other elements.

With enhanced link attribution, you receive click percentages broken down according to which element a site visitor clicked on to get to the destination web page instead of one percentage number that represents total clicks to the same destination.

How Enhanced Link Attribution Works

As noted earlier, the enhancement is part of Google’s In-Page Analytics feature. In-Page Analytics gives you various statistics for any page on your site, including where visitors clicked. However, the In-Page Analytics feature is limited in distinguishing between multiple links on the same web page going to the same destination.

Enter Google Analytics enhanced link attribution. It lets you tag your pages with enhanced link tracking functionality so you can obtain individual stats for links that share the same destination URL. For example, if there are two links on your home page that both lead to the About Us page, you can now view separate click percentage data for each link. You’ll also be getting separate data for a page element, such as a Search button, that leads to many different destination pages, as well as elements that use JavaScript.

To add enhanced link attribution to a web page, you need to use Google Analytics asynchronous tracking code snippet. The new, two-line tag should be added to the tracking code as shown here:

var _gaq = _gaq || [];
var pluginUrl = '//www.google-analytics.com/plugins/ga/inpage_linkid.js';
_gaq.push(['_require', 'inpage_linkid', pluginUrl]);
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXX-Y']);
_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);

Next, go to your web property settings using the Admin link found at the top of any Analytics page and enable the enhanced link attribution.

This enhanced link attribution code adds an event handler that checks for a click target ID, as well as a destination URL, with every click. If there is an ID, it temporarily stores it as a _utmli cookie. The link ID information is recorded and sent to the _trackPageview before clearing the cookie.

How Will the Change Impact Your Site Performance?

The most obvious impact is more accurate and detailed click-through information. This speaks volumes in designing a website that will drive traffic and get the results you’re seeking. It will allow you to look at your site performance with more knowledge about how visitors are using your site. For example, you’ll get clear answers to important marketing analysis questions, such as:

  • Which links are site visitors clicking on?
  • Are my calls to action effective or do they need to be more visible or powerful?
  • Is the site layout ideal for what I want visitors to do on the page?
  • Are visitors being attracted to the content I want them to view?

By knowing which elements are working better than others, you can adjust the layout of your site content accordingly to optimize the performance of your site pages. With the enhanced link attribution feature, Google Analytics is providing a more sophisticated tool to better track and analyze your website traffic. And when it comes to enhancing your website results, the more tools the better for achieving success!

TL;DR

Enhanced link attribution is an improved feature of Google Analytics’ in-page reports that show you the real click-through rate of links on a page, rather than the click-through rate for each destination URL on the page. Enhanced link attribution must be turned on manually by adding a bit of code to the standard analytics tracking code.

 

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4 Comments
  1. Great article. I liked the fact that you mentioned this “…. a _utmli cookie. The link ID information is recorded and sent to the _trackPageview before clearing the cookie” I hadn’t found that level of detail in other documents. I am using a FF add on and dont see that cookie on your home page. Are you turning it off and on randomly?
    Art

    • Hey thanks Art! Glad you enjoyed the blog post. We’re not using enhanced link attribution on this site. It’s not really a part of our strategy at the moment, but it’s definitely something worth using if you’re interested in finding out (for real) how many clicks are hitting links on your site.

  2. Useful summary of enhanced link attribution. I was just curious as had advice that in order for it to work properly, each link should already have a unique ID so they can be identified / differentiated. I thought I had read that the change to the analytics code would mean that if an ID for a link was not present, a unique ID would automatically be given to that link, and hence click volume stats for each individual link could be given. If you have any experience on this matter i.e if have to manually add IDs to links or not, would be interesting as haven’t found any articles stating this explicitly. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for this but I was wondering if I have multiple trackers, do I have to push _require in each tracker? Thanks.

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