I've researched this morning how to use Google Analytics to track outbound page views. However, I think the implementation might be a bit difficult on our website (as we have hundreds of outbound links)

Here's what google recommends.

* Function that tracks a click on an outbound link in Analytics.
* This function takes a valid URL string as an argument, and uses that URL string
* as the event label. Setting the transport method to 'beacon' lets the hit be sent
* using 'navigator.sendBeacon' in browser that support it.
var trackOutboundLink = function(url) {
   ga('send', 'event', 'outbound', 'click', url, {
     'transport': 'beacon',
     'hitCallback': function(){document.location = url;}
<a href="http://www.example.com" onclick="trackOutboundLink('http://www.example.com'); return false;">Check out example.com</a>

As you can see, attaching an onClick attribute to every single anchor tag you want to track is fine, IF YOU ARE JUST NOW DEVELOPING A WEBSITE!

To remedy this issue, I have written some code to loop through every anchor tag on the page, and determine if the anchor is external or not. In this script, *.pdf need to be included. Here my custom script:

var anchors = document.getElementsByTagName("a");
		for (i = (anchors.length - 1); i > -1; i--) {
			var anchorHREF = anchors[i].getAttribute("href");
			if (anchorHREF != "" && anchorHREF != null) {
				var doSetOnClick = false;
				if (anchors[i].hostname != document.location.hostname) {
					doSetOnClick = true;
				if (anchorHREF.indexOf(".pdf") > -1) {
					doSetOnClick = true;
				if (doSetOnClick) {
					anchors[i].setAttribute("onClick", "javascript: trackOutboundLink('" + anchorHREF + "');")

Note: This code fires on DOM Ready.

I am not asking for code review on the google part, just my custom loop. Do you feel as though my loop is going to have good browser support? >IE8? How could I Improve this code?


1 Answer 1


I would write this code like:

  .call(document.getElementsByTagName("a")) // Get all links from the page
  .forEach(function (link) { // Loop through them
    const isExternal = link.hostname != document.location.hostname;  // Check if is external
    const isPDF = link.href.indexOf(".pdf") > -1; // Check is is PDF
    if(isExternal || isPDF){
      link.setAttribute("onClick", "javascript: trackOutboundLink('" + link.href + "');"); // set onClick attribute

Update #1

Using ES6, you can do something like this:

// Get all the links from the page
const links = [...document.getElementsByTagName('a')];

// "Explain what a pdf link is"
const isPDF = link => link.href.endsWith('.pdf');

// "Explain what an external is"
const isExternal = link => link.hostname != document.location.hostname;

// "Explain what links you want to target"
const target = link => isPDF(link) || isExternal(link);

// "Explain what should be done to those links"
const onClick = link => link.setAttribute('onClick', `javascript: trackOutboundLink('${link.href}');`);

// Filter and do the work

I would suggest the second method, because it's much more clear, pure and very easy to test.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Since you've provided an ES6 solution you could probably use String.prototype.endsWith over indexOf to check if the file is a pdf \$\endgroup\$
    – Craig Ayre
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 9:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries! A few more things while I'm here: You could provide a spread operator alternative to Array.from and setAttribute could use string templates: `javascript: trackOutboundLink("${link.href}");`(and to be real picky onClick could be in single quotes to be consistent) - Nice work! \$\endgroup\$
    – Craig Ayre
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 9:35

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