Link Click Tracking: Internal and External Clicks Report in Google Analytics

You can easily setup a external and internal link click tracking using Google Tag Manager to register the clicks as Google Analytics Events to understand the users actions on the website or blog.

Google Tag Manager (aka GTM) is a very handy tool when it’s clubbed with Google Analytics for tracking users’ behavior. Apart from general pageviews, GTM can also be used for tracking external as well as internal link click. All you need is to set up a firing trigger (rule) and GTM tag to send the data as an event to GA.

This guide won’t be very technical or with any kind of scripts, just a few clicks triggers, and manual setup, that’s all.
Let get started with the setup now.

Internal link click tracking in Google Analytics

To track internal link clicks, we need to set up a GTM tag to listen to every link click containing our website URL and dispatch it to Google Analytics as Event.

First, we will set up a GTM Tag to dispatch click as GA event and later set up a firing rule trigger.

Internal link click tracking: GTM Tag setup

Follow the below steps to set up a GTM tag.

  1. Login to GTM Account and access the container
  2. Select your favorite GTM workspace
  3. Click on ‘ADD A NEW TAG’ option
  4. Name the Tag – ‘Internal Tracking Event’
  5. Hit ‘Choose a tag type to begin setup…’ and select ‘Universal Analytics’ from the listChoose Tag Type
  6. Next, select the Track Type as ‘Event’ and enter the Event details to be reported in GA.
    • Category = Internal Link
    • Action = Click
    • Label = {{Click Text}} (make sure you’ve enabled built-in ‘Click’ variables.)
    • Value = blank or ‘0’
    • Non-Interaction Hit = False (setting this to ‘True’ will affect the Bounce Rate metrics)
      Internal Tracking Event Tag Setup
  7. Select the Google Analytics tracking variable (if already defined) or select checkbox saying ‘Enable overriding settings in this tag’ and enter your Google Analytics tracking ID i.e. UA-XXXXXX-XX
    Google Analytics Tracking ID Field
  8. Finally hit on the SAVE button.

A window will pop up saying ‘No Trigger Selected’, click on the ADD TRIGGER button and proceed to the next section in this guide.
No Trigger Selected Window

Internal link click tracking: GTM Trigger setup

Trigger for internal link click event is pretty simple. We’ll just create a rule wherein any click URL link that matches our domain name should fire the event tag that we’ve set up earlier.

After you hit on the ADD TRIGGER button, you’ll have a window with the entire list of existing triggers. Considering the trigger is not set up yet, follow the below steps.

  1. Hit on + to add a new trigger (available at right-hand top corner)
  2. Name the new trigger as ‘Internal Link Click Trigger’ (or anything you can identify)
  3. Hit on ‘Trigger Configuration’ box to choose a trigger type
  4. Select ‘Just Links’ from Trigger Type window
    'Just Link' Trigger Type
  5. Change the trigger fires on a radio button to ‘Some Link Clicks’ from the default ‘All Link Clicks’
  6. Select firing condition are true from drop-down when Click URL 'contains' www.example.com
    Internal Link Click Trigger Setup
  7. Finally hit on the SAVE button and also save the Event tag again to be double sure.

Preview the changes on the live website to validate the event tag is set up and firing is correct, and publish the link tracking event.

Google Analytics external link click tracking

Similar to internal link click tracking, we can set up an external link tracking replicating the same GTM tag and trigger setup. However, the condition of the trigger will slightly differ.

In the earlier case, we have considered the website URL contains our domain name, but in external link tracking we need to set up the exact opposite. i.e. website URL does not contain the domain name.

External link click tracking: GTM Tag setup

Follow the below GTM tag setup for sending external link tracking in Google Analytics as Event.

  1. Login to the GTM Account and access the container.
  2. Select your favorite GTM workspace.
  3. Click on ‘ADD A NEW TAG’ option.
  4. Name the Tag – ‘External Tracking Event’.
  5. Hit ‘Choose a tag type to begin setup…’ and select ‘Universal Analytics’ from the list.
    Choose Tag Type
  6. Next, select the Track Type as ‘Event’ and enter the Event details to be reported in GA.
    • Category = External Link
    • Action = Click
    • Label = {{Click Text}} (make sure you’ve enabled the built-in ‘Click’ variables)
    • Value = blank or ‘0’
    • Non-Interaction Hit = False (setting this to ‘True’ will affect the Bounce Rate metrics)
      External Link Click Tracking Event Tag Configuration
  7. Select the Google Analytics tracking variable (if already defined) or select checkbox saying ‘Enable overriding settings in this tag’ and enter your Google Analytics tracking ID i.e. UA-XXXXXX-XX
    Google Analytics Tracking ID Field
  8. Finally hit on the SAVE button.

A window will pop up saying ‘No Trigger Selected’, click on the ADD TRIGGER button and proceed to the next section in this guide.
No Trigger Selected Window

External link click tracking: GTM Trigger setup

After you hit on the ADD TRIGGER button, you’ll have a window with an entire list of existing triggers. Considering the trigger is not set up yet, follow the below steps.

  1. Hit on + to add a new trigger (available at right-hand top corner)
  2. Name the new trigger as ‘External Link Click Trigger’ (or anything you can identify)
  3. Hit on ‘Trigger Configuration’ box to choose a trigger type
  4. Select ‘Just Links’ from Trigger Type window
    'Just Link' Trigger Type
  5. Change the trigger fires on the radio button to ‘Some Link Clicks’ from the default ‘All Link Clicks’
  6. Select firing condition as true from drop-down when Click URL 'does not contain' www.example.com
    External Link Click - Trigger Setup
  7. Finally hit on SAVE button and also save the Event tag again to be double sure

Preview the changes on a live website to validate the event tag is set up and firing is correct and publishes the link tracking event. That’s All!

Reading Google Analytics Events data

The event data will be collected and available in Google Analytics under Events [Behavior > Events] tab. Open ‘Top Events’ tab and click on ‘Internal Link’ or ‘External Link’ event category and switch to the Event Label dimension.

Internal Link Tracking Event Label Data

The event labels displayed are nothing button the {{Click Text}} that we’ve set up while configuring the tag. Add the secondary dimension Page to display corresponding page URL where internal link click has occurred.

Internal Link Tracking Event Label Pages

Now based on the data you may now answer the question like:

  • How have many internal or external link clicks happened? – Total Event for Internal or External Link category.
  • Which page has maximum internal link clicks? – Events sorted in desc. order with secondary dimension as Page in place.
  • Which click has maximum external navigation? – Event Label

And many more business-related questions. Share your story on how helpful you find this tracking for measuring your business goals.

If you've any thoughts on Link Click Tracking: Internal and External Clicks Report in Google Analytics, then feel free to drop in below comment box. Cheers!

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Kushal Azza
Kushal Azza
Fond of latest technologies and gadgets. I'm a digital dev and analytics consultant. Also, the geek behind this blog!

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