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
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
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.
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!
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.