Use Google Analytics to find digital walking paths

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There’s an urban legend from several different colleges about how a school didn’t pave sidewalks in the first year of its new construction. The school simply let students wear paths in the grass and then paved over where they walked later, in order to create a campus that felt the most natural.


While apocryphal, the concept is a sound one. Pave and expend resources where people are, rather than where you think they should go. What if you could do that with your website?

Using Google Analytics, you can. Google Analytics provides a tool called Event Tracking in it. Event Tracking has nothing to do with real world events; rather, it’s a way to track interactions by users with your content. By adding code to various pieces of your website or to Google Tag Manager, you can track the worn paths through the digital grass of your site.

When implemented, you’d be able to tell what people were or were not clicking on, in real-time and in legacy reporting:


What could this tell you? You’d know how much of your navigation you could de-emphasize or remove entirely. You’d know what content was getting clicked on. You’d know what interface elements weren’t contributing to clicks at all and remove those as well. In the end, you should have a cleaner, more functional website.

If you’re using Google Tag Manager and your website identifies its content and navigation elements by classes, this is the configuration you’d use for Tag Manager to track those clicks:


Otherwise, you’d need to make interface changes to your website’s code in order to do the tracking. Google has provided instructions for this procedure here.

Understand your digital walking paths and you can make a website which will serve your visitors’ needs best and make them feel comfortable, as though they’d built the site themselves.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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