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Tracking Specific Website Activities with Google Tag Manager on Your WordPress Site

10 min read


Note: This is the eighth installment in our detailed series focused on effectively utilising Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager for your WordPress site. If you’re joining us for the first time, it’s beneficial to review the earlier articles to build a solid foundation in these essential digital tools.

Goal: By the conclusion of this article, you’ll have the skills to track specific website activities such as downloads, video views, and external link clicks using Google Tag Manager (GTM) on your WordPress site. This ability is not just a technical feat; it’s a strategic asset in understanding and enhancing user engagement on your site.

In today’s digital landscape, understanding how users interact with your website’s content is crucial. Whether it’s a downloaded resource, a watched video, or a clicked outbound link, each action taken by a visitor provides valuable insights. GTM simplifies the tracking of these specific activities, allowing you to capture detailed analytics without the need for complex coding.

This article aims to guide you through the intricacies of setting up varied types of tracking in GTM. You’ll learn how to create custom tags for different user interactions and understand the significance of these activities in the broader context of user engagement and content strategy. By mastering these techniques, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of how your content resonates with your audience, enabling data-driven decisions to optimise your online presence.

Setting Up Download Tracking in GTM

Importance of Tracking Downloads

In the digital age, where content is king, tracking file downloads on your website is an essential aspect of understanding user engagement. Whether it’s a PDF, eBook, whitepaper, or any other downloadable resource, each download represents more than just a click. It signifies a user’s interest in or need for the information you’re providing.

Why Tracking Downloads Matters

Measuring Content Value

Downloads serve as a direct indicator of the value and relevance of your content. High download rates can signify that your resources are meeting the needs and interests of your audience.

Understanding User Intent

By analysing which resources are downloaded the most, you gain insights into your users’ interests or pain points. This information is invaluable for tailoring your content strategy to better serve your audience.

Lead Generation and Marketing Insights

For many websites, particularly in B2B sectors, downloadable content is a key component of lead generation strategies. Tracking downloads helps in understanding which materials are most effective at capturing leads.

Evaluating User Journey

Download interactions can provide insights into the user journey on your site. Understanding the path that leads to a download can inform improvements in site navigation and content placement, enhancing the overall user experience

Segmenting Audience

Downloading data can help in segmenting your audience based on their interests, allowing for more targeted and personalised marketing efforts.

Creating a Download Tracking Tag

Setting up a download tracking tag in Google Tag Manager allows you to capture and analyse data every time a user downloads a file from your site. Here’s how to create a download tracking tag:

Access GTM and Select Your Container

Log into your Google Tag Manager account and select the relevant container for your WordPress site.

Create a New Tag for Download Tracking

In GTM, navigate to the ‘Tags’ section and click on ‘New’ to create a new tag.

Name your tag something descriptive, like “PDF Download Tracking.”

Configure the Tag

  • Tag Type: ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Event’.
  • Configuration Tag: Select your GA4 Configuration Tag (using the GA4 Measurement ID).
  • Event Name: Use a descriptive name, e.g., “download”.
  • Parameters:
    • event_category: “Download”.
    • event_action: “PDF Download”.
    • event_label: Variable for the file name.

Choose a Trigger for the Tag:

  • Trigger Type: ‘Click – Just Links’.
  • Configure to fire on clicks with ‘.pdf’ in the URL.

Test Your Tag and Trigger:

Use GTM’s preview mode to test your new download tracking tag and ensure it’s firing correctly when a PDF is clicked.

Check in Google Analytics under ‘Real-Time’ > ‘Events’ to see if the events are being recorded.

Publish Your Changes:

Once satisfied with your testing, publish your changes in GTM.

By accurately tracking downloads, you’re able to collect data that reflects user interaction with your content. This information is crucial for understanding what resonates with your audience and can guide future content creation and distribution strategies.

Implementing Video View Tracking

The Growing Importance of Video Content

In an era where digital content is king, videos have emerged as one of the most engaging and impactful forms of content. Tracking video interactions on your website is not just about counting views; it’s about understanding the depth of engagement with your content and its impact on your audience.

Why Video View Tracking Matters

Enhanced User Engagement Insights:

Video content often requires and receives more user attention compared to text or images. Tracking how users interact with your videos (watch time, play rate, etc.) provides insights into their engagement levels. Are they watching the entire video? Do certain videos keep viewers engaged for longer?

Content Strategy Optimisation:

Video analytics can inform your content strategy. By understanding which videos are most popular and engaging, you can tailor future content to align with user preferences, enhancing overall engagement and retention.

Boosting Conversion Rates:

Videos can be powerful tools for conversions, especially in marketing and e-commerce contexts. Tracking video interactions helps correlate viewing behaviour with conversions, identifying what type of video content drives action.

Personalised User Experiences:

Video tracking data can be used to personalise user experiences. For example, if a user spends a lot of time watching tutorial videos, you might recommend similar content or products related to these tutorials.

Improving SEO:

Engaging videos that keep visitors on your site longer can positively impact your SEO rankings. Understanding video performance through tracking can aid in optimising it for better search engine visibility.

Setting Up Video View Tracking in GTM

Tracking video views in Google Tag Manager involves creating tags that fire based on video interactions. This setup varies slightly depending on the video platform (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo). Here’s a general guide, using YouTube as an example:

Access GTM and Your Container:

Log into Google Tag Manager.
Select the appropriate container for your WordPress site.

Create a New Tag for YouTube Video Tracking:

Navigate to ‘Tags’ and click ‘New’.
Name your tag descriptively, such as “YouTube Video View GA4”.

Configure the Tag:

  • Select ‘YouTube Video’ as the tag type. GTM provides built-in support for YouTube video tracking.
  • Under ‘Configuration’, select the GA4 Configuration Tag associated with your property.
  • Under ‘Track Types’, select the interactions you want to track (e.g., ‘Starts’, ‘Completes’, ‘Pauses’).

Setting Up Triggers:

  • Go to ‘Triggering’ and set up a new trigger.
  • Choose ‘YouTube Video’ as the trigger type.
  • Configure the trigger to listen for the interactions you’ve selected (such as all views or certain percentages of views).

Advanced Configuration (Optional):

For detailed tracking, you can enable settings like ‘Capture video title’ and ‘Capture video URL’.
These provide more comprehensive data for analysis in GA4.

Testing and Publishing:

Use GTM’s preview mode to test your tag. Ensure it fires correctly for user interactions with YouTube videos on your site.

Once satisfied with the setup, publish your changes to activate the video tracking.

Sending Data to GA4:

Make sure that the tag sends the appropriate event data to GA4. You may need to customise the event parameters to align with your GA4 configuration.

Adaptation for Other Platforms:

This process can be modified for other video platforms by choosing the relevant tag type and configuring triggers accordingly.

By setting up YouTube video tracking in this way, you ensure that user interactions with video content are effectively captured and analysed in GA4, offering valuable insights into content performance and user engagement.

Tracking External Link Clicks

The Significance of External Link Click Tracking

In the realm of website analytics, understanding how users interact with external links is as crucial as monitoring internal navigation. External links, which lead users away from your site to different domains, can offer valuable insights into user behaviour and preferences. Tracking these clicks can provide a window into several aspects of user engagement and website performance.

Why Track External Link Clicks?

Insight into User Interests

External link clicks can indicate what type of content or resources your audience finds valuable. This information can inform content strategy and partnership opportunities.

Referral Traffic Analysis

Tracking outbound clicks helps in understanding the nature of referral traffic you are sending to other sites. This can be important for affiliate marketing strategies or for analysing the effectiveness of outbound partnerships.

User Journey Mapping

Understanding where users go after leaving your site can offer insights into their overall online journey. Are they seeking more information on a topic? Or are they moving towards making a purchase on an affiliate site?

SEO and Link Value

External linking is a significant aspect of SEO. Knowing which outbound links are most clicked can help in evaluating the quality and relevance of these links.

Enhanced User Experience

Identifying frequently used external links can help optimise the user experience, ensuring that valuable external resources are easily accessible.

Setting Up External Link Click Tracking

Tracking external link clicks in Google Tag Manager involves setting up specific tags and triggers that capture these events.

Access Your GTM Dashboard

Log into Google Tag Manager.
Select the relevant container for your website.

Create a New Tag for External Link Clicks

  • Navigate to ‘Tags’ and click ‘New’.
  • Name the tag descriptively, such as “External Link Click GA4”.

Configure the Tag

  • Select ‘Google Analytics: GA4 Event’ as the tag type.
  • In the ‘Configuration Tag’ field, select your GA4 Configuration Tag.

Set up the event tracking parameters

  • Event Name: “external_link_click” (or a name of your choice).
  • Event Parameters:
    • event_category: “External Link”
    • event_action: “Click”
    • event_label: “{{Click URL}}” (to dynamically capture the URL of the clicked link).

Setting Up a Trigger for the Tag

  • Click on ‘Triggering’ and create a new trigger.
  • Choose ‘Click – Just Links’ as the trigger type.

Set the trigger to fire on some link clicks, specifically when the Click URL does not contain your website’s domain. This configuration ensures that the tag only fires for external links.

Test and Publish

Use GTM’s preview mode to test the tag and trigger. Make sure it fires correctly when external links are clicked.

Once testing is complete and you are satisfied with the configuration, publish your changes.

By implementing this tracking, you can gather data on how users interact with external links, offering insights that can inform content strategy, partnership decisions, and overall website optimisation.


In this in-depth exploration, we have traversed the sophisticated landscape of tracking specific website activities using Google Tag Manager on your WordPress site. We delved into the nuances of setting up tracking for downloads, video views, and external link clicks – each a vital component in painting a comprehensive picture of user interactions. These advanced tracking techniques are not merely about data collection; they are instrumental in gaining a deeper understanding of how users engage with your site, providing valuable insights that can shape your content and marketing strategies.

As you continue to harness the power of GTM, we encourage you to explore further tracking possibilities. The versatility of GTM opens a myriad of opportunities for detailed analytics, empowering you to tailor your tracking to specific needs and goals. Stay tuned for our next article, where we will delve into even more advanced GTM features, explore further integrations with Google Analytics, and uncover specific strategies for optimising website performance based on the rich insights gleaned from your analytics endeavours. This continuous journey through the realms of GTM and Google Analytics is key to elevating your website’s success and creating an impactful online presence.

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