This article discusses two methods of capturing actions on your site in Google Analytics: Event Tracking and Pageview Tracking. Event Tracking can be used for any action a user takes on your site. A couple examples would be signing up for the RSS feed, clicking through to your twitter page, or sharing a story on Facebook. Since these actions don’t generate a new pageview on your site, event tracking is one way to measure that. Pageview tracking would be used for tracking links to external pages, and for setting Goals in analytics for on-page events, since only URLs can be set as goals. You can also use this for tracking pageviews for dynamically loaded content.
This article discusses the rise of time spent as a core metric. “As visitors spend more time viewing AJAX pages or watching video, the pure page-view metric can underreport a property’s marketing performance.” The article frames the discussion in terms of content-driven sites vs. data-driven or app-like sites, and although much of the article is confusing and poorly written, the conclusion is valid: make your site easy to use, and focus on engagement over pageviews.
There is a surprising lack of of articles regarding pageview and event tracking with Google Analytics, aside from technical implementation posts. These two articles outline the two types of dynamic tracking, with pros and cons for each. One interesting fact is that if an event is recorded on a single-page session, that will not be counted as a bounce, since there was some interaction. Web developers should consider implementing this for features on their page which don’t trigger an organic pageview, such as a social media widget or RSS link. Another implication of this has to do with time on site. If a user only visits one page, the time on site isn’t recorded since there isn’t another data point for GA to compare times with. If an event or virtual pageview were tracked, it stands to reason that time spent on site would increase.