About 4 years ago I wrote a post on the subject of Using Google Analytics to track click throughs from your website which described how to use PageTracker to log clicks on links which wouldn’t normally be picked up by Google Analytics. This worked fine and indeed still does, but it is no longer the method I would suggest to solve this problem.
Now you can use Event Tracking to track all sorts of things like ClickThrus, Downloads, PDF reads, Media Plays and pretty much anything else you can think of. I won’t go into how to implement Event Tracking as Google have a pretty good explanation in their Google Analytics Event Tracking Guide. Event tracking works very well and lets you track an event in several different ways by specifying category, action, label and a value if you want to.
Missing pages in Webmaster Tools
Event tracking has been around for a little while now and I have used it on several newer sites but I never bothered to go back to older sites and replace the PageTracker technique with Event Tracking. They still worked ok and still collected the information I wanted. But one day I was checking out a site in Google Webmaster tools and I spotted that there were a lot of Crawl Errors, most of these errors were 404 errors relating to missing pages; dummy pages that I had specified in PageTracker!
Oops! It seems that Google being super clever had tried to follow my PageTracker code even though they didn’t point to real pages. The links the PageTracker code was attached to still worked fine but Google was trying to find another page based solely on the PageTracker.
As far as I could tell this hadn’t hurt the SEO ranking of the site but I decided it was time to update it to use Event Tracking instead of PageTracker. If Google thought there were a whole lot of 404s on the site that couldn’t be a good thing. A few months on I haven’t notice any difference in SEO terms or in traffic but at least I have tidied up all the Crawl Errors and avoided any potential future penalties, Google does like a tidy site. And of course I can get more information from Event Tracking than I could from PageTracker.