Using Google Analytics to Track Outbound Links

When you track outbound links, Google Analytics can tell you much about your customers – information that will help boost conversion rates.

Mine your data deeper to boost content strategy outcomes

Many studies (such as “Outgoing Links Used as Ranking Signal” by Reboot) have shown that outbound links to authoritative sites have a positive impact on your website’s ranking in search engines. What these studies don’t tell you is something far more important to marketers: the connection between your visitors and your outbound links.

In this article, you’ll learn why you should track outbound links using Google Analytics.

Why do your outbound links matter?

It’s probable that you will include outbound links in your content, even though it’s counterintuitive to encourage people to leave your site. You’ll see one right at the top of this article. Outbound links do several jobs, including:

Knowing where your visitors visit next by tracking your outbound links can tell you a vast amount about your customers. This is where Google Analytics comes into play.

What can Google Analytics and outbound links tell you?

Google Analytics is the leading tool to track your website traffic. Used correctly, it can tell you much more than simply how many people are visiting your site and the most popular pages.

Google Analytics can tell you why people leave your site and where they go to, by tracking your outbound links. This information is content marketers’ gold. It’s enormously powerful to have such info at your fingertips when you are creating and iterating your content strategy.

Google Analytics will tell you much about your outbound links, including:

  • The most popular destinations
  • What advertising works
  • Which of your affiliates are most popular with your visitors

Analyzing these types of outcomes, you can get to understand your customers better. For example:

  • Customers clicking through to your social media accounts indicate deeper interest
  • People who click through to informational links indicate interest in that information – they are more likely to return, because you are helping them (saving them time and effort, and becoming a source of informed content)
  • Clicking through to your landing pages indicates that your content has generated real interest and is starting to convert

How to mine your outbound links using Google Analytics

Analyse the content that you have been producing. Figure out which is working, and find out what clicks with your audience. Here’s where Google Analytics and tracking outbound links start to put fuel into your strategy tank.

Google Analytics can tell you where your website visitors go when they leave your site – and they will, at some point. It’s this information that can really fire up your content strategy.

Understanding your customers is key to converting

Knowing which outbound links your visitors click will tell you what is most important to them. Do they crave information and statistics? Do they want to know more about products from other companies? Are they interested in reading case studies, or human stories?

It’s this deeper understanding of customers that is essential. It’s the rocket fuel that could propel your conversion rates, underlining the importance of collecting data for content marketing success. Tracking outbound links using Google Analytics can inform you what it is that makes your customers click, and this will tell you what makes them tick. And if you produce content in tune with the latter, then your content strategy will achieve its goals.

To mine your outbound link data, you’ll need to add a Google Analytics tracking code directly to your site. You can find the code to do so in the Google Analytics help page, though it is likely the code will need to be modified for your website.

Do you include outbound links on your content? What does your analysis tell you? Let us know in the comments.

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