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Muniscope is Canada’s national resource on municipal issues, sponsored by the Intergovernmental Committee on Urban and Regional Research (ICURR). Their bilingual online library search is hosted by Andornot and run on a variant of the ASK web application that integrates a CMS template with data served by the Inmagic Webpublisher API.

Mark Rose, the Information Services Manager at ICURR, felt that the loan numbers derived from the cart/borrowing feature on the site did not reflect actual usage. Many library items link out to documents hosted on other sites. Have users been visiting those online documents directly instead of borrowing them from the library? How then does one show that the site is providing its valuable intended service and driving users to content? Mark realized he could leverage his existing Google Analytics account to do just that. (Google Analytics is free, you know. And festooned with features.)

After consulting with Mark, I added a simple script to the site that intercepts outbound links and pings Google Analytics with information about the external URL – there is no “middleman” page so the user is none the wiser. As Muniscope operates under more than one domain, the script checks the target URL against a configurable list of domains to determine whether a link being clicked is truly external and should be tracked as outbound. And voilà, Mark goes to his Google Analytics dashboard and starts to see quantifiable numbers and charts on the number of outbound links clicked.

A great idea, and easily executed. Interested in doing something similar? Call or email us. Send a pigeon. Corner one of us at the next library conference and make us do your bidding.

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