The Clicks Google Analytics Does Not Report

The Clicks Google Analytics Does Not Report

By David Bird
Google Analytics does not report all clicks… unless you “tell it to”.  Google Analytics is built to track website page changes, meaning when a visitor goes from one page on your site to another.

But what happens when a visitor watches a video, or downloads a PDF, or even fills out some forms? The page doesn’t change; therefore Google Analytics doesn’t see it. And what Google Analytics doesn’t see, you don’t see in your data reports.


In order to take the blinders off, you need to ‘tell’ Google Analytics what click data to see, and what to do with these non page changing clicks.

Any click on a website that doesn’t change the page is called an Event in Google Analytics.  Events ‘tell’ Google Analytics what to do with click data when the page does not change.

To properly track an event, Google Analytics needs to know two things:

  • Category:Broad grouping of what happened, such as opened a link, downloaded a PDF, watched a video, etc.
  • Action: What/where it happened

A third option in configuring an event is a Label, which allows you to provide more detailed information about a specific event.

Table 1 below provides a summary and examples:

Table 1 – Events







Definition Broad grouping of interactive objectives Describe the type of interaction. Identifies something specific about the action
Example Videos Play/ pause Video ID
File Downloads File Type File Name
Contact Form/email/phone blank
Events don’t come naturally to Google Analytics, so they have to be planned or configured so the clicks are tracked.  First, we need to determine what website items to track. It can be, video, contact form, phone number, email address, etc. Each of these items needs to be ‘tagged’ with a category and action that get sent to Google Analytics.

There are two ways you can collect and send event data to Google Analytics:

The Hard (Manual) Way

You could hire a programmer to manually tag your buttons, outbound links, file downloads, videos, etc. But that’s really expensive and inefficient. Besides, if you add another button, outbound link, etc. to your website, you have to rehire the programmer to tag the new asset.

The Easy (Automated) Way:

One of the most efficient ways to tag your events is with Google Tag Manager, a free tool that captures and transfers click data to Google Analytics.

Google Tag Manager is your Website’s Event Planner

Google presents Tag Manager as an “easy to use” product. Please note, although the product has come a long way since its launch almost five years ago, it works best if you have a working knowledge of html and java script.

Next Steps Toward Your Event Planning

Now that you understand what website events are and why you need to track them, let’s take a look at what kind of events might be happening on your website that are not being tracked.  Make a list and consider if Google Tag Manager will help you: