By Edgar Mason

Google have introduced Autotrack, a solution to ensure that all Google Analytics implementations start off with a strong foundation of tracking with minimal manual implementation.

  • Analytics

Back to blog home

As anyone who’s done a few Google Analytics (GA) implementations will be able to tell you, the basis of any good implementation will include a very similar tick list of essentials. These interactions are common across a variety of websites and are therefore frequently implemented as part of a ‘standard’ implementation. The less experienced GA user, who is implementing GA for the first time, won’t be as familiar with the requirements for setting up more than just pageview tracking and may struggle to track these important interactions. Autotrack has been created to help both the advanced user, by removing the need to implement the same additional pieces of code with each implementation and the less experienced user, by doing some of the work for them.

What Autotrack gives you

Autotrack enables you to track a variety of features without requiring as much coding as a traditional implementation. The plugin tracks outbound links and form tracking by default, so you don’t have to spend time capturing users navigating to external websites. You’ll also capture media queries, which help you understand how users are engaging with your responsive website. The plugin also makes it much easier to track single page applications, as it automatically detects URL changes behind the scenes and tracks those as pageviews. Additionally the plugin simplifies the process of adding event tracking to your site by allowing you to declaratively add the event to the HTML rather than adding an event listener.

Setting it up

Autotrack is a JavaScript library built on top of analytics.js, which means you’ll need to be using Universal Analytics to be able to benefit from this. The library includes a number of plugins that enable the various tracking elements; by default they’re all bundled together but you are able to separate them if required. The script file needs to be added to your page and the Google Analytics snippet (that sits on all pages) will need to be updated to include the Autotrack plugin. Then you’re good to go (the changes for the declarative event tracking is implemented separately).

Amended tracking script for Autotrack

Who’s it relevant for?

Autotrack has been designed for properties that do not already have customised tracking code. It is ideal for users who have limited developer resource but do want to have a good basis of interaction tracking across their website. You’ll need to update the Google Analytics script that sits on all the pages of your site, but once that’s done you’ll get a good foundation of tracking across your website. If you’re able to plan a full Google Analytics implementation then I’d go down that route and give Autotrack a miss, as you’ll be able to implement a much more comprehensive tracking set up.

This plugin isn’t currently available via Google Tag Manager unless you implement Google Analytics via a Custom HTML and amend the code as mentioned before. So it’s probably worth giving it a miss if you’re currently implementing all your tracking via Google Tag Manager as it’s easy enough to configure similar tracking directly through that platform.

We’re going to have a play around with it and will report back on our findings soon. If you’d like to know if Autotrack is suitable for you or need any help setting up it, get in touch.

Share this article