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SEO Hero Training: Adding Event Tracking to a Phone Number 2


Event tracking is a very helpful Google Analytics tool to have in your SEO Hero Toolbox. When you use event tracking you can track all sorts of things like clicks on links, form submits or values filled into a search bar. If you are new to event tracking, and trying to understand it, consider using it to track something simple first, such as a clickable phone number in your header.

Tracking Phone Numbers in your Header

Most websites, particularly local businesses, such as a plumber, or a bonsai tree grower, have a phone number in the header as it’s a clear call to action that can drive conversions. Being that it’s 2017, and a mobile-only world, all someone has to do to contact you, is press their finger on the telephone number, and their cellular phone will dial your business. By applying event tracking to this phone number, you track how often somebody called your business from your website. You can use this information to measure the success of your website, understand trends, a/b testing and more.

Making your Phone Number Clickable

It’s easy to make your phone number clickable if it isn’t already. All you are doing is applying the HTML code for a link on your phone number.

If your phone number in your header is: 646-555-9922,
it’s just a matter of putting a small bit of HTML code around your digits.

<a href=”tel:646-555-9922″>646-555-9222</a>

If you’re familiar with HTML, you can see that this is just a slightly modified HTML link. You can apply event tracking to any link, whether it be an email address, a button, a clickable image, or a menu item in the header.

Adding Event Tracking to a Phone Number

Adding event tracking isn’t overly complicated, but it can be difficult to understand at first. For this reason, I like to explain the outcome first.

Below is a picture of where to find your Event Tracking Analytics information and what it looks like.

where to find event tracking

You would go to Behavior –> Events –> Overview

Understanding Event Categories

You’re then greeted with the event categories. What you name the Category is up to you. In my opinion, it should be something simple and meaningful. Each Category will have one or more labels so, in this instance, I would clean up my categories by moving:
4. Equipment Booking Number and 5. Phone Call into the category of 1. Phone.

Event Tracking simplified

Then I would use the Category labels to differentiate all the different types of phone numbers I’m tracking, which you’ll see further down below.

For “6. General” I crossed off as it is a poor category name. If you’re showing this to an SEO client in a report, they are going to have a hard time understanding it.

Finally, for the event category “2. addthis” – this was created by a plugin called Share Buttons by Add This, and it tracks an event if someone shares a link to a page or post on social media like facebook or twitter.

What are Event Actions and Event Labels?

Event Actions and Event Labels are subsets of your Event category

event-category-label relationship

For Event Action, a suitable action is usually an action verb, like click, phone, or submit.

In the example below, you can see how typos can mess up your event tracking. We have “Click” and “click”. We’d want to go into our code and switch click to Click to keep things consistent. There is also Click Phone Button on Header. I would probably convert this to Click, then make a separate category label for this instead.

The actions below of fFacebook, twitter, linkedin, google_plusone_share are all plugin actions. They are telling us that someone shared the post on facebook, twitter, etc. So while Facebook isn’t an action verb, the user can still understand that this meant someone shared a page/post on Facebook.

You may wish to differentiate between your clicks by making two event actions. One called link clicks, and one called phone clicks. This is all preferential, there is no right or wrong here. You really just want to do what’s helpful for you and your client to understand the event tracking. Event Labels are my preferred way of drilling down in the event category.

event action example

Event Label is where I like to get more specific for my labeling.

Under the Category Phone, I have two events.

Event Labels

As you can see they are pretty self-explanatory. We can see someone used the phone number to book a truck either in the header or footer.

Creating your Event Code

For creating your event code, I like to use an Event Code Generator. And really, it’s just a matter of putting in your Event Category, Event Action and Event Label.

So for example, in this form you’ll put in:

event-tracking form

The form generator will then spit out the necessary code.

onClick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, { eventCategory: ‘Phone’, eventAction: ‘Click Phone’, eventLabel: ‘Click Phone in Header’, eventValue: 0});”

So going back to our telephone number example,

We are going from 646-555-9922

to adding our html code to make it clickable:

<a href=”tel:646-555-9922″>646-555-9222</a>

and then we add our event tracking code to

<a href=”tel:646-555-9922″ onClick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, { eventCategory: ‘Phone’, eventAction: ‘Click Phone’, eventLabel: ‘Click Phone in Header’, eventValue: 0});”>646-555-9222</a>

Additional Event Tracking Details

In the form generator, you’ll see you have the option of making an interaction or non-interaction. The default is typically interaction and you’ll probably use this. If you want to learn more about non-interaction events in Google Analytics, I’ve included the following article by Lunametrics.

Event Tracking Value

You can add a numeric value to your event tracking. Usually, this is a monetary value that has meaning to you or your SEO client. For example, your client might say for every phone number in the header click, I make $75. In this case, you’d put 75 in the value field. This comes in handy for attribution reports, or when comparing your SEO and SEM efforts.

Classic vs Universal Analytics

In 2012 Google updated their analytics code from Classic to the now standard Universal Analytics. Your site, or the site you are working on, might have Classic analytics. The event tracking generator will give you both and explains why you would use one over another. Personally, I’d recommend that if you come across a site with classic analytics, that you update them to Universal. However sometimes these things are out of your control, or you’re new to SEO and analytics and that endeavor is not within your comfort zone.

Testing your Analytics

Within minutes of adding event tracking, you can test it immediately. Simply go to Real-Time in Analytics (you’ll see it on the left-hand menu) then click on Events. When you click on your event you should see the event trigger.

If your event doesn’t trigger, there are a few things you can troubleshoot. Firstly, make sure your event tracking code matches the code for your type of analytics (classic or universal). Secondly, sometimes a CMS will strip out your event tracking code. WordPress is notorious for this and I typically use a plugin such as gravitate for event tracking You may also want to explore Google Tag Manager for tracking events.

By learning how to put event tracking on a phone number, you can start to wrap your head around how powerful event tracking can be. If you have any comments or question, feel free to post below.

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2 thoughts on “SEO Hero Training: Adding Event Tracking to a Phone Number

  • qparadise.com

    That integer in the _trackEvent call just gets multiplied by the number of events tracked which, in my experience, results in the display of a meaningless number in GA. Do you use it in a way that makes it display more meaningfully?

    • rocketeer Post author

      That’s very true. It is a bit meaningless as you’re just estimating the value of your leads for whatever time period your are measuring. It could make for a quick go-to-metric to put value on your efforts, or useful in A/B testing. Moz has a great article on how you can use the number to estimate revenue in point 4 of the their blog on https://moz.com/blog/roi-local-seo