Section Tracking with Google Analytics 4

Section Tracking with GA4

By: Robert Kegel

In today’s data-driven world, understanding how users interact with your website is paramount. Section tracking enables you to monitor user engagement with different parts of your page, providing insights that can drive content and design improvements.

This guide introduces you to implementing section tracking using Google Analytics 4 (GA4) and Google Tag Manager (GTM), tools at the forefront of web analytics.


Before we dive in, ensure you have:

  • An active GA4 property.
  • Access to Google Tag Manager.
  • A basic grasp of HTML and JavaScript

The Power of Section Tracking

Section tracking is not just about counting page views. It’s about understanding which parts of your website attract interest, retain attention, and possibly need improvement. By analyzing interactions with specific sections, you can tailor your content strategy to match user interest and enhance site navigation.

Website Setup for Effective Tracking

To start, identify the sections you wish to track. Add a class .ga-section-tracking to each relevant section and include a data-section-name attribute with a descriptive name for the section, like so:

<div class="ga-section-tracking" data-section-name="Contact Us">...</div>

Crafting Your GA4 and GTM Strategy

1 Establishing a DOM Element Variable in GTM

In GTM, create a new variable to capture the data-section-name value:

  1. Go to Variables > New > Variable Configuration.
  2. Select Auto Event Variable.
  3. Set Variable Type to Element Attribute, and Attribute Name to data-section-name.
  4. Name your variable SectionName.

2 Trigger Configuration in GTM

Next, set up a trigger for when users interact with your tracked sections:

  1. Navigate to Triggers > New > Trigger Configuration.
  2. Choose All Elements for click-based interactions or Visibility for tracking section views.
  3. Configure the trigger to fire on visibility events where the viewed element matches .ga-section-tracking.

3 Tag Configuration for Sending Events to GA4

To send the interaction data to GA4:

  1. Go to Tags > New > Tag Configuration.
  2. Select Google Analytics: GA4 Event.
  3. Input your GA4 Configuration Tag.
  4. For Event Name, use something descriptive like section_interaction.
  5. Under Event Parameters, add section_name with the value {{SectionName}}.
  6. Add interaction_type with the value View.
  7. Attach the trigger you created.

Ensuring Accuracy Through Testing

Testing your Google Tag Manager setup is a crucial step before going live. It not only ensures that your tags are firing correctly but also verifies that you’re capturing the exact user interactions you’re interested in.

Here’s a detailed process on how to efficiently test your section tracking setup using GTM’s preview mode:

Enter Preview Mode 

In GTM, navigate to the workspace where you’ve set up your section tracking tags and triggers. Click on the “Preview” button located in the top right corner.

A new tab will open, prompting you to enter your website’s URL. Input the URL of the page where you’ve implemented section tracking and click “Connect”. 

Interacting with Your Website 

Once GTM is in preview mode, and your website loads, start interacting with the sections you’ve marked for tracking.

This might involve scrolling to a section to trigger visibility events or clicking elements within those sections if you’ve set up click tracking. 

Reviewing Events in Preview Mode 

The GTM Preview pane will display all the tags that are firing as you interact with your website.

Here, you should see your section tracking tags activate when you engage with the targeted sections. For each event, you can click on it to expand the details. This shows you which triggers activated the tag and the data being sent to GA4, including any variables like {{SectionName}}. 

Verifying Tag Configuration and Data 

As you review the events, verify that the section_name parameter is correctly capturing the values from the data-section-name attributes.

This ensures that your GA4 events will have the precise section names attached to them. If a tag doesn’t fire as expected, check the associated trigger’s configuration.

Ensure the trigger conditions match your expectations for the interaction. Common issues include incorrect CSS selectors or misunderstanding the trigger types (e.g., Click vs. Visibility). 

Utilizing GTM’s Debugging Features 

GTM’s Preview mode offers a wealth of information for debugging. If tags aren’t firing, look at the “Variables” tab to see if the DOM Element Variable for section names is capturing values correctly. The “Issues” tab in the preview mode can also highlight potential problems with your setup, offering suggestions for resolving them. 

Final Checks 

After verifying that all interactions are being tracked correctly, conduct a final walkthrough of your site. This ensures you haven’t missed any sections or interactions. Pay special attention to dynamic content or sections that might load after the initial page load, as these can sometimes require special consideration in your trigger setup.

Delving Into Data with GA4’s Explore Feature

Once your data starts flowing into GA4, it’s time to analyze it. The “Explore” section in GA4 is a powerful tool for this purpose.

Creating a Free Form Table for Section Data Analysis:

  1. In GA4, navigate to Explore and create a new exploration.
  2. Select Free Form.
  3. For dimensions, add Event Name and your custom parameter section_name.
  4. Choose metrics like Event Count and User Count.
  5. Optionally, apply filters to hone in on specific events or sections.
  6. Analyze the table to understand which sections engage your users the most.

Best Practices for Maximizing Insights

Implement effective naming conventions from the start for easier data analysis. Regularly review your section tracking data to identify trends, and don’t hesitate to adjust your content and design strategy based on your findings.

Section tracking with GA4 and GTM opens up a new dimension of user behavior insights. By following this guide, you can set up a solid base for a robust analytics framework that helps you understand and enhance user engagement on your website.

Implement section tracking on your site today and start uncovering valuable insights into how users interact with your content. Add more triggers and tags to get a clearer picture of what your users are looking for. 

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