Pageviews are one of the best known metrics, present in almost all web analytics reports.
This metric is populated with pageview hits, which are sent to Google Analytics every time we view a page or refresh the page itself.
However, in recent years a series of technologies have developed that improve user navigation on the site (classic example: Single Page Applications) but which create problems in their tracking.
With these applications, the content of the page changes as the user navigates, the URL changes, yet the page does not reload.
If the page does not reload, the pageview hit is not sent to Google Analytics.
Very often it happens that not the whole website is developed with an Ajax-like technology, but only some parts of it.
What happens in these cases?
- you can track the whole website normally
- you can’t trace pages with this technology
It may happen that you are unable to track page views in crucial points, for example in the sellout funnel: these are precisely the cases in which virtual pages are needed.
What is a virtual page
The Virtual Page is a page that does not exist on your website, but that you are creating in order to send a pageview hit.
By creating this hit, it is possible to get around the obstacle and, in all those pages of your website, where the content does not reload, you can use this virtual page to send the hit to Google Analytics anyway.
By doing so, GA receives the information of where the user is and you can use this information for your own analyzes.
Virtual Pages: practical cases
There are several cases in which, the Virtual Pages, come to the rescue:
- Single Page Application (SPA): As mentioned above, SPA can request the use of virtual pages. There is no need to create virtual pages on all pages of your website, but it can be useful to use them in certain places. If you want to know how to track Single Page Applications, read my dedicated post;
- Checkout: it is very useful to use the Virtual Pages in this area of the website, where, often, the user makes different interactions but the URL does not change;
Virtual Pages and Google Analytics
Once I have created the Virtual Page, I can easily use it like any other page on my site.
For example, I can decide to set it as a Goal and give it a value:
Or I can insert virtual pages into a Funnel so that my Goal is completed:
Inspecting the Chrome Console, the Virtual Pages will appear within the hit pageview like any other page, with:
- its URL
- the title you can give it when you create it
If you want to find out how to implement virtual pages on your website with the help of Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics, read my complete guide in this post. In a few steps, by creating dedicated tags and triggers you will see how to inject virtual pages in certain points of your site and how to set a Goal in GA.
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