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Google Analytics: Tracking ‘Outbound’ Links via a Roll-Up Property.

The Question

CEHD wanted to see how much traffic they were sending from their website (cehd.gmu.edu) to the core website’s Request Information page.

Possible Solutions

Solution 1: Outbound Link Event Tracking

By default, click on outbound links will not be captured in your site analytics by GA. You can (either through code or using GTM) set-up your analytics implementation to capture clicks on outbound links. This method would have provided them with the data they were looking for, but such outbound link tracking had not been enabled on the CEHD website. (Note that this is the case on the large majority of Mason websites.) So this option was not a workable solution in this case.

Example

Account: Mason College of Education and Human Development
Property: cehdweb
View: cehd
Report: Behavior -> Events -> Overview
Date Range: June 1, 2017 – June 8, 2017
Notes:

  • No outbound link events are being tracked in this property.

Problem: outbound link tracking was unavailable.

Solution 2: Look at Analytics on Receiving Website

Even though outbound link tracking was unavailable on CEHD, we should be able to look at the core website and see how many views of that page were due to referrals (traffic being sent) from CEHD.
You could look at the core website analytics and see any traffic that either:

  • landed on the request information page, and was referred from cehd.gmu.edu, or
  • viewed the request information page at some point during a visit which was referred from cehd.gmu.edu.

For these cases, you would look at either the Landing Pages, or All Pages report, and add a secondary dimension of “Full Referrer”, to see which pages from cehd.gmu.edu were sending traffic to the Request Information page.

Unfortunately, the referral exclusion list was mis-configured on the core website analytics such that it was not tracking referrals from any other gmu.edu domain. See more about how to configure the referral exclusion list.

Example

Account: Mason Office of Communications and Marketing
Property: www2.gmu.edu
View: [PROD] Default 1.0 (2007-10-12)
Report: Acquisition -> Referrals
Date Range: June 1, 2017 – June 8, 2017
Notes:

  • No gmu.edu websites show-up in the referrals report.

Problem: referral information was unavailable. While we could see how often the Request Information page was viewed, we couldn’t see how many views were sent from cehd.gmu.edu.

Option 3: Use ‘Previous Page Path’ to Identify the Particular Clicks in the Roll-Up.

The Mason Google Analytics Roll-Up came to the rescue.

Even though we couldn’t see the information we wanted in either the CEHD or the core website analytics, both the core site and CEHD participate in the Mason Google Analytics Roll-Up. This meant that we could look in the university roll-up specifically for views of the request information page which were immediately preceded by views of a CEHD page, by using the ‘Previous Page Path’ field.

Example

Account: Mason Google Analytics Roll-Up
Property: Mason Google Analytics Roll-Up
View:[PROD] Mason Roll-Up 2.0 (2015-12-08)
Date Range: May 2017
Report: Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages
Filter: Page -> Matching RegExp -> ^www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/request-information
Add a secondary dimension: Previous Page Path
Filter: Previous Page Path -> Matching RegExp -> ^cehd.gmu.edu

You can now see which CEHD pages have sent people to the request information page.
There were 19 pages in total.
Most traffic was from the cehd.gmu.edu/admissions/ page.

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