Virtual Pageviews Or Event Tracking – Which Is Right For You?
Virtual Pageviews were previously chosen as the necessary method of seeing submissions. The new form was not recording those Virtual Pageviews. Something was wrong with the tracking setup when using the new contact form handling system.
Unfortunately, the need for this new form was predicated by an old SEO company removing a form from the client’s site when the client decided to move on to a new SEO firm. The ethics behind this garbage is a whole other issue and post….suffice it to say, the client had to get things setup and tracking again.
My first question was: why use Virtual Pageviews and not use Event Tracking?
I generally prefer Event Tracking for most button click actions that we want to track. There are some pros and cons to each type of tracking that we need to look at before we determine what works best for any given situation.
According to Google Analytics help, figuring out what and when is pretty simple. If you read between the lines I think they’re saying “use Event Tracking unless you want to configure a Goal – then use Virtual Pageviews.”
Are Virtual Pageviews Right For You?
- Supports goal configuration – cannot configure a goal with an event
- Doesn’t artificially inflate bounce rate
- Artificially inflates pageviews for the site
- Limited information available – events are much more robust or correlating conversions and user behavior
Configuration Of Virtual Pageviews
You must adjust the code within the form, link, or submission button you want to configure as a virtual pageview.
You should add the following code to the item you want to track:
This code should be appended to the action “link” within your code – it does not get added to your Google analytics tracking script.
Here is an example of how to incorporate this into your link coding:
Should You Use Event Tracking?
I have penned previous articles about Event Tracking. I think it solves a lot of issues we have with tracking things that might not be inherently trackable in the standard installation of Google Analytics. I also like the ability to see the interactions with thinks like buttons and videos, and connecting those interactions with conversions.
The one drawback with event tracking is the inability to include an event in a goal setup. Frustrating, but using Virtual Pageviews can help with that.
- Reduces bounce rate
- Doesn’t inflate pageviews like a virtual pageviews does
- Can see quite a lot of detail around events, including conversions. It’s easier to correlate data with an Event
- You can’t include an event in a Goal setup because you can’t assign an event its own page name like you can with a Virtual Pageview.
Configuring event tracking has been covered before, for step-by-step instructions look at this Event Tracking 101 article.
So what is right for you? That depends upon what information you’re trying to understand, and how you want to understand it.
In my opinion, if Google could make Events work nicely with Goal setup – the need for the Virtual Pageview would likely be obsolete. I might be wrong, are there instances where you’d need a Virtual Pageview instead of an Event that don’t involve goal tracking? Let us know what you think.
Postscript: A few great readers showed me that Google actually does integrate Events with Goal tracking. This makes some of our issues much easier to solve. If you can edit your submit buttons, links, forms, etcetera and add an event tracking code to the link, you’re able to have event and goal information.
This doesn’t apply to measuring actions that cannot be edited such as plugin forms on blogs. There can be a way to add the event tracking if you’re savvy enough to hack the plugin without breaking it. You can also use virtual page views to track interactions that dont change the URL – such as a change in how a script or function runs on the site.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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